Enter your mind palace in Twin Mirror
Hands-on with dontnod’s latest narrative experiment
Format: PC, PS4, Xbox one | publisher: bandai NAMCO | developer: dontnod ENTERTAINMENT | release: 2019 | players: 1
We recently had the opportunity to sample but a taste of Twin Mirror, a slice of introductory gameplay cut from the first episode of the game, Lost On Arrival. It’s weird; pretty bloody weird. Then again, at this point we wouldn’t really expect anything less from Dontnod.
We quickly hit the beats of the trailer. We are introduced to Sam, a man with a sad story that has led him down a sad path: to a downtrodden part of small-town America. Then he wakes up with a cracking hangover, and all hell breaks loose; his shirt is covered in blood, he can’t remember a thing, and there’s a spritely manifestation of his subconscious darting in and out of the hotel room, goading him. If that wasn’t enough to process, he has got a receptionist slamming on his door telling him that he’s about to miss checkout, and nobody likes a late fee. So Sam retreats into his mind palace in an attempt to figure some things out.
Oh, yeah, we should probably explain.
One of Twin Mirror’s primary game mechanics is tied around your activities in Sam’s mind palace – a space where fragments of his memory live and contort, somewhere that we will be able to use to reconstruct and reinterpret information from his past. It’s here where we recreate the hotel room in an attempt to figure out what the hell happened the night before. This vision of the room can be manipulated, giving us the time and space to change details in the room and attempt to trigger the recollection of a memory.
It’s an interesting idea, and one that isn’t all that far removed from a similar system seen in Dontnod’s Remember Me. But there’s something to Twin Mirror that feels a little more engrossing and enveloping than that particular previous experiment. A psychological thriller in a world in which nothing is quite as it seems; a murder mystery with a protagonist constantly at odds with his own memory and perception of reality? That’s certainly something we can get behind, so long as Dontnod can clear up some of the presentation and framerate problems we witnessed in our demo.
Still, for something so obviously narrativedriven and inherently focused around branching decisions, it’s difficult for us to get a taste for how all of this will play out across the three chapters. But it certainly has our attention, although, as with everything that comes out of Dontnod, it’s simply impossible to know whether this will be another Life Is Strange, or whether it’ll be relegated to the annals of history like Remember Me and Vampyr.
The first episode of Twin Mirror is expected to launch in early 2019, although publisher bandai namco is yet to reveal how close the wait is likely to be between each chapter.
Above: Twin Mirror is a psychological thriller that will seemingly take great delight in subverting expectations and throwing you into a litany of challenging situations.