As a fan of the previous DONTNOD title Life is Strange I was certainly intrigued to play their new release Tell Me Why. This new game has no connection to the Life is Strange universe but does follow a similar narrative play style defined by player choices.
In this story we follow twins Alyson and Tyler from a very small town in Alaska called Delos Crossing. Delos is the kind of close-knit community where everyone knows each other and their business which can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse. After the unfortunate death of their mother, Alyson and Tyler were sadly separated due to the circumstances surrounding the incident. Alyson stayed in Delos and was raised by her uncle while Tyler was sent to a juvenile facility called Fireweed. Both siblings have noticeably done a lot of growing over the years and have been through a lot of changes during the decade they spent apart, but most notable is Tyler’s transition, becoming a young transgender man. Dontnod are known for tackling sometimes sensitive issues in their games and this release is no exception. It is great to see that subject matter experts were consulted during the game creation process to ensure that the topics surrounding gender, sexuality and mental health were accurately portrayed and handled with respect, sensitivity and accuracy.
Spending 10 years apart has clearly taken a toll on the twins and their initial exchanges are somewhat coarse and awkward. The twins quickly learn that memories can be painful but also must be explored to uncover the truth. Once they start the process it doesn’t take long for them to reform their bond and rediscover their ‘twin voice’. As Alyson and Tyler uncover more about their mother and the circumstances surrounding her death it brings into question some of what they thought to be true for a large part of their lives.
Although the story focuses mainly on the siblings, we also get a look into how past events also had an effect on other relationships within the community and how their mother Mary-Ann had a much wider impact. Mary-Ann was a troubled but incredibly creative woman who took to whimsical stories to explain her past that she didn’t feel she could reveal herself. It seems that Mary-Ann had some suspicion that she may not always be around for her children and with this in mind left behind a trail of breadcrumbs for them to uncover.
The game contains several puzzles which although not too challenging provide a nice break in the mostly dialogue driven adventure. The choices that are presented to the player are for the most part intentionally subtle, this is to ensure continuity in story flow. With these choices being less prominent it is not always initially obvious to see how much effect it has on the overall outcome. At the end of each episode you are presented with a comparison of your choices vs other players, this allows you to see if you were part of the majority in your decision making.
The games animations left some room for improvement with stilted character movements and facial expressions that didn’t always portray the true feeling behind what was being said. That aside, the impressive backdrops and detailed scenes overshadow these minor pitfalls. An example of this can be seen in the views of the Alaskan lakes and forests where care and attention to detail certainly have not gone amiss, there are ample opportunities to sit back and take in these scenes which is a nice detail.
Dontnot have sometimes been criticised for their choice of voice actors however, the casting for Tell Me Why is really great. The dialogue and emotions are very well portrayed, and is coupled with a great supporting musical backing, making for a truly immersive experience.
For those who previously became impatient with the episodic release schedule for Life is Strange will be happy to know that the three episodes that make up Tell Me Why’s journey will be released only a week apart. This is to allow players time to digest what they have uncovered in the previous episode without having to wait too long for the next.
Tell Me Why is a great adventure that, although could be considered almost as a playable movie, still offers a nice amount of interaction and story hooks to be a worthwhile experience. Fans of this narrative and thought-provoking genre are likely to have an enjoyable experience with Tell Me Why and its interesting and relatable characters.
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.