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Review: State of Mind
State of Mind Review
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State of Mind has some pretty lofty ideas. So much so, that it might take you a while to wrap your head around the whole thing, especially once the game reveals its whole dual-reality McGuffin, protagonist Richard Nolan (voiced by Geralt voice actor Doug Cockle) but one side of a complicated coin. Initially playing as investigative journalist Nolan (who we suspect is named after Christopher Nolan in a nod to Inception), the narrative is set in motion by a bizarre car accident that sees him waking up in hospital with a head injury, his wife and son mysteriously missing.

A straightforward sci-fi adventure game, you're mostly a passenger in State of Mind's storyline, along for the ride and called into action for the occasional puzzle or intermittent decision, and that's about the long and short of it. Set in Berlin, 2048, State of Mind has you fulfilling some fairly mundane tasks in its opening moments, making the first chapter an exercise in perseverance as its slow-burn narrative strives to find its feet. Once it gets going, however, Daedalic's adventure becomes a rather compelling yarn that will keep you hooked.

Once the action cuts to second protagonist Adam Newman in City5 and his suspiciously similar life to that of Richard's in Berlin, State of Mind's futuristic tale develops into a sequence of head-scratching occurrences. As such, you'll be constantly formulating theories as to how and why Richard and Adam have a connection, or indeed, whether they have a connection at all. Their lives are similar – almost a mirror image of one another – but the guesses you'll come up with regarding how events are likely to unfold will in all probability be proved wrong as you progress.

Adopting a low poly visual style lends State of Mind a surreal, almost dreamlike quality too, its flat-textured character models a stark contrast to the comparatively detailed environments that surround them. The proportions of characters are odd too, their movements unwieldy thanks to unnaturally long limbs, and the way they handle is slightly clunky too. While the developer cites the reason for the unique look of its characters as a reflection of their fractured psyches, it doesn't really gel, and consequently there's a degree of sterility to State of Mind.

This is the least of State of Mind's problems, however, the prescribed way in which the story is delivered being the real downer, the game's puzzles (if you can call them that), adding very little, every interaction marked by your character's integrated AR mod with a green arrow.

Matching environmental scenes to piece together memories, tuning a frequency to hack into terminals, or linking articles to come up with a thread that reveals a location or person are effectively the only puzzles you'll encounter (with one or two exceptions), and none will remotely tax your grey matter or leave you stroking your chin. But then there's enough in the way of narrative intrigue to keep you engaged and drive you forward to the final credits.

Those aforementioned lofty concepts eventually come to fruition too, as State of Mind poses questions around the nature of reality, and the potential dark futures we could be facing as a species. There are some scarily plausible elements at work in State of Mind, be it a faceless, robotic police force patrolling the streets, the constant, all-pervading threat of terrorism on a global scale, people's minds being uploaded as data to achieve a strange sort of immortality, or other terrifying facets of potential future-shock weirdness.

Decisions might be few and far between in State of Mind, and while some present you with reactive, emotional responses as options – like a sensitive, positive, negative, angry or silent reaction, for example – that seem largely inconsequential, there are some choices that are clearly pivotal. And as the story gradually unfolds, you'll soon gain the ability to switch between Richard and Adam, going from the graffiti-strewn, rain-slicked streets of Berlin to the pristine, pure white structures of City5 via each character's holographic noteboard.

Later, Richard and Adam also begin to communicate via cloud calls, and gradually, you'll get a clearer picture of what's going on as you jump back and forth between the two. Towards the latter parts of the game, things slowly develop, and puzzles become ever-so-slightly more complicated, though never to the point where you'll be stuck wondering what to do. By and large, it's a case of trial and error, and it's impossible to fail at any point, leeching away any real sense of jeopardy.

While State of Mind can occasionally seem lifeless with a somewhat (presumably deliberately) dated aesthetic, there's still a lot to like here, despite the first hour or so unfolding at a snail's pace. Even peripheral characters are fairly well-drawn, while Richard, Adam and the central characters that surround them are convincing, feeding into your own investment in where each of them is heading and the final outcome based on the choices you've made. Overall, you're left with a sense that State of Mind's ideas might not be particularly well-executed, but it'll leave an impression and maintain your attention for its duration.

 

A solid sci-fi soundtrack, complemented by strong voice acting, and the ability to sit at a piano in your apartment and enjoy your very own cacophonous noodlings. Marvellous.

Adopting a low poly style with somewhat more realistic environments seems incongruous, but it helps engender a sense of dreamlike weirdness, which in a world where all is not as it seems, works well. Character models look very odd, though, a bit like that Dire Straits music video.

Character movement is a bit 'off' and interactions are fairly basic, but for the most part, State of Mind plays as well as an adventure game like this needs to. Solid.

Puzzles exist at the more basic end of the spectrum – albeit with the occasional mild head-scratcher – so you'll mostly be following the narrative in a prescribed manner, although there are parts of the game where you can choose which character to play as, and what order to do things in.

With branching paths through the story, State of Mind's list inevitably demands multiple playthroughs. There's no chapter select, unfortunately, but the game does create multiple autosaves throughout that you can load up at any time. A decent list, all in all.

An intriguing sci-fi adventure with some neat concepts at its core, State of Mind's visual style and the prescribed nature of its action can be off-putting, but dig in for the ride, and you'll enjoy a smart narrative that eventually pays off. Definitely worth sticking with.

 
 
 
Game Info
Genre:

Release:

US August 15, 2018
Europe August 15, 2018
Japan August 15, 2018

Players: 1
Online Players : 0
ESRB: Mature
Collection:12
Wishlist:8
 
 
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