STATE OF MIND
Speculative sci-fi: the acknowledgement that, yes, it can get worse and here’s how. Developer Daedalic imagines two sides of a futuristic coin. Richard Nolan lives in a dark and oppressive future, where the police force is an entirely robotic, authoritarian body, and he works for seemingly the only news outlet in the West, The Voice. Adam Newman, however, lives in the bright and hopeful City5 and works for chirpy news outlet The Present. Both men find themselves knocked off balance after a car accident, questioning their memories and the shifting dynamic between them and their families. Sleuthing for clues, the influence of the tech noir genre is obvious. You’ll be decrypting your home android’s memory module, piloting a drone to scan clubgoers’ IDs, and questioning your friends over full-body, holographic FaceTime. A compelling view of Berlin in the year 2048 is presented throughout the first and early second act; much time is spent reflecting on the line between our real and virtual lives, criticising the thinking that the two aren’t one and the same, and exploring the ways advancements in technology simultaneously empower and disempower us.
The low-poly visual stylings invoke a sort of retrofuturist sensibility, a complement to the story’s noir influences. But like those pointy character models’ faces, this one doesn’t fare well in closeup.
IN TWO MINDS
The noir influences are, sadly, perhaps most apparent in the story’s antiquated gender politics; one prominent dame gets a full bingo card of tropes filling the role of the Other Woman, the Ill Girl, and the Down-on-Her-Luck Sex Worker With A Heart Of Gold. Borrowing another noir genre convention, many characters are unlikable but rather than being believably flawed, they feel cartoonish. Even in the shoes of a variety of key players, it’s difficult to relate to or care about any of them – the kiss of death for any narrative game.
The world building, through the mundanity of its futuristic technology to the insistent advertisements that glower through windows, is its most compelling aspect, alongside the novelty of its visual direction. Unfortunately, the good faith it builds with this is squandered by its story. The full potential of that plot hook teased by the story trailer, of people being uploaded into a virtual world, is left largely untapped, culminating in a disappointingly sedate round of musical-chair-esque body hopping. The totality of the story feels overlong and bloated, with the final act dragging through what feels like at least three endings. And when you do get to your final choices, they’re not given the space to really breathe or feel weighty. What starts out promisingly as a sci-fi, tech noir mystery quickly unravels into a rote, playable action film.
“IT ALL CULMINATES IN A SEDATE ROUND OF MUSICALCHAIR-ESQUE BODY HOPPING.”
A compelling take on the future hampered by a story very much of our time. When I think about it, this is one I’d struggle to recommend that you pay much mind to. Jess Kinghorn
Full body FaceTime looks super-cool in theory but becomes horrifying when you fully consider its likely practical reality.
FORMAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB DAEDALIC ENTERTAINMENT DEV DAEDALIC ENTERTAINMENT