Twin Mirror is the latest narrative adventure from DONTNOD following of from the success of their other titles such as Life is Strange and Tell Me Why. In this story we follow investigative journalist Sam Higgs as he returns to his small hometown of Basswood upon the tragic death of his best friend Nick. Some of Sam’s journalism landed him in bad stead with the townspeople and caused him to flee his life in Basswood over 2 years ago. Sam turned his back on everyone he knew, this instantly becomes apparent on the frosty reception he receives when he returns. Sam never intended to revisit Basswood, but Nick’s death has forced him to face some uncomfortable situations and relationships.
Upon talking to Nick’s young daughter, it soon becomes apparent that Nick’s death may not be all that it first seems and foul play may have been at hand. Sam then finds himself quickly wrapped up in an investigation to uncover the real truth of what actually happened.
One thing that I have always loved about DONTNOD is that they have never been shy about exploring sensitive issues in their games. Previously these have been more so focused on teens and young adults but have been something that a lot of people can relate to. This time we get a look into Sam’s mental state when we enter a separate world known as his ‘mind place’. The mind place is visually stunning and at times quite haunting. Whilst in the mind place we can get a better handle on some of Sam’s old memories that may have been buried for some time. This element of the story was really enjoyable but I feel that DONTNOD only scratched the surface with the topic of mental health and could have pushed the narrative a lot further.
Part of Sam’s mind place is able to transcend into his reality in the form of an imaginary double only known as Him. This double offers Sam advice during social situations and conversations. Sam is then forced to decide if he wants to listen to him or deviate from the advice he has been handed. I think this is a great metaphor for the little voice we all have inside our head in whatever form that may take. This also helps to build a connection between player and Sam as a protagonist.
Life is Strange and Tell me Why were well known for their episodic content release. This was mainly implemented to give the player time to digest the tough and thought provoking decisions they had made in the previous episode and to break a lengthy story into manageable chunks. Twin Mirror did not take this approach and released the game as a whole package. The game is noticeably shorter than any of the other titles and it feels like you often don’t get enough time to connect with the characters or become enthralled in the story before it is all over. When you feel like you are just finding your footing with the story, you sadly reach the end of the game. I think the fact that it left me disappointed and wanting more reflects the game’s potential and I only wish we were given more.
With narrative driven adventures it is usually effective to see how your decisions change the path of the story as things unfold. I didn’t feel that this was clear with Twin Mirror, especially with the lack of time to digest between episodes. However, this may become clearer with a second playthrough.
I have often experienced texture popping when playing other DONTNOD titles, unfortunately this seemed to be much more apparent during my Twin Mirror paythrough. It did not affect the overall gameplay experience but did catch my attention on quite a few occasions. With this issue aside the game does fulfil the graphically pleasing scenery that we have come to see in earlier titles, but again I would have loved to see more.
The game encourages you to revisit the story with hints towards multiple endings. For some players this would be enough of a reason to embark multiple playthroughs, but I wasn’t convinced that there was much more that was left to be uncovered. You can however visit separate chapters in collectable mode if you so wish which is a nice way to replay the game.
Twin Mirror is unfortunately bit of a mixed bag. With some great ideas and potential for a captivating story it’s a shame that the adventure was cut so short. It feels like the game was intended to be longer and this is evident in the relative potential. Sam’s mind place is a highlight and does provide a lift to the game in areas that are at times lacking substance. The foundation was set but fell short of the great detective story that Sam’s return to Basswood could have been.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.