THE WASHINGTON POST – Twin Mirror, a choice-driven, psychological thriller, is the newest adventure game from Dontnod Entertainment, an award-winning studio best known for Life is Strange. Because of the developer’s strong track record of crafting games with memorable characters, I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality.
As the final credits rolled on Twin Mirror, I was baffled, having witnessed five hours of an uneven, dull mystery that never finds its footing. It’s a huge disappointment – almost beyond comprehension.
Twin Mirror leaves behind the supernatural elements of its predecessors for a more grounded psychological thriller. You play as Sam Higgs, an investigative journalist who returns to his hometown, Basswood, to attend the wake of his best friend. His death doesn’t add up, so Sam takes matters into his own hands.
Twin Mirror introduces a wide breadth of characters, but the game’s length is too short. Not enough time is dedicated to providing depth, so people never feel real.
The mystery is straightforward – in fact, it’s too straightforward. With no strong relationships or intrigue to the mystery, the story crashes and burns.
Though Twin Mirror isn’t about the supernatural, it still has that Dontnod touch that brings in something strange and somewhat otherworldly. Once you gather all the clues, the investigation transitions into Sam’s head, a space called the Mind Palace. Here, you can reconstruct crime scenes, such as a bar brawl. You have to figure out where the fight began, who was involved and what obstacles they hit in the environment. While this could make for neat puzzles, the result is instead a clumsy execution of trial-and-error. You have to swap different, arbitrary options until you find the truth.
The one thing Twin Mirror gets right is how good it looks. The visuals are stunning, particularly in Sam’s Mind Palace, where areas are crafted out of crystalline, geometric shapes, or you walk through shallow water in what looks like an endless ocean with the sun peeking through the clouds. It makes these moments interesting, and bizarre, but substance beyond the graphics is skin deep.
Upon finishing Twin Mirror, it didn’t feel like a Dontnod game. For a studio that has prided itself on tackling social issues and representing marginalised characters thoughtfully through rich storytelling, Twin Mirror is soulless. It’s a failure in what the studio usually does best.