Twin Mirror Review – Middle of the Road (PS4)
Twin Mirror is a psychological thriller from DONTNOD Entertainment, the makers of Life is Strange and Tell Me Why. This is an atmospheric adventure that does a fantastic job at setting up the initial mystery and intrigue although it sadly loses much of that energy towards the end.
You get to play as Sam Higgs a former investigative journalist who has returned to his hometown for a funeral. Basswood is one of those small towns where everybody knows each other and gossip flows freely. Sam clearly doesn’t want to be back but the tragic death of his former best friend, Nick, forces him to return and face his past.
Twin Mirror Review – Atmospheric Adventure
There’s definitely tension in the air and you’ll notice it as soon as Sam makes his entrance at the wake. Before he left Basswood, he wrote a big story about the poor working conditions at the local mine which eventually lead to it’s closure. The town’s main industry was mining so this had a big impact on the local economy. While he wrote the story for all the right reasons many of the out-of-work miners are not particularly pleased to see him back.
One person who is pleased to see Sam is Nick’s daughter. She quickly confides in you that she thinks there is something off about her Dad’s death and wants you to look in to it. With this potential foul play in mind you’ll get to chat to the locals and see if you can shake anything loose.
The opening couple of hours are great at reeling you in and making you want to find out more. Exploring mountain viewpoints, local bars, and businesses, will quickly suck you into all the drama surrounding this little town. There are some complex themes explored here, including unemployment and drug addition, and you’ll need to look into these things if you hope to uncover the truth behind your friend’s death.
To investigate you’ll have to walk around small areas, examining items and talking to people. It’s a simple enough process but sometimes you’ll need to find clues in a specific order. This means that you can end up walking round and round in circles, clicking on random things over and over again, to try to move the story on.
Twin Mirror Review – Inner Sanctum
Sam has a rather vivid imagination and he will occasionally retreat into his “mind palace.” This is a strange realm inside his head where time in the real world seems to stop, giving you time to piece together all the clues you’ve gathered. You’ll have to select between different versions of timelines to work out the correct order of events. There’s only one correct answer to these puzzle sections so sometimes it can feel like you’re just swapping events around until you finally manage to get the right sequence.
The mind palace is a beautiful place filled with random memories, shattered glass, and vibrant colors, it contrasts brilliantly with the more muted and realistic tones of Basswood. However Sam’s head is not always a pleasant place which will help your investigation. There are times when he’s in high anxiety situations and this palace becomes a prison. Locked inside his own mind you’ll have to run through doorways and avoid shadowy figures. It’s definitely a bit surreal at times and adds a lot to the tension and peculiar nature of the game.
It’s not just the mind palace that makes Sam unique. He also has an imaginary friend called “The Double” who can appear for a chat. He’s basically a version of Sam that is more sociable and emotionally intelligent. The Double can give you advice of what to say to people but it’s up to you if you take it or not. The choices you make can impact relationships with other characters as well as deciding which ending you get.
Twin Mirror Review – Hello, Goodbye
Unfortunately, it feels like the game only lets you explore things at a surface level and you never really get to dig too deeply into what’s happening in Basswood and why. There are characters you meet who seem like they have really interesting stories to tell but they’ll quickly vanish into the background, never to appear again. While there are some weighty story themes most of the choices you make feel superficial and like they don’t have that much impact on the final outcome.
Part of the issue is how quickly the game reaches it’s conclusion. While the opening half of the game sees you wandering about, chatting to people and getting a good feel of the town, the second half moves along at breakneck speed and the ending feels a little rushed and predictable.
It’s a shame that Twin Mirror manages to create such a compelling and interesting opening but just doesn’t manage to stick the landing. It definitely didn’t take me on the same kind of emotional journey as some of DONTNOD’s previous games, and unfortunately I found myself not really caring too much about Sam or the residents of Basswood.
Twin Mirror review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.