If I had been to think about a single sentence to explain the output of French sport developer Dontnod Entertainment, I’d provide you with one thing alongside the strains of “Moving episodic narratives, starring youths.” And I don’t suppose I’d be completely off-base with that characterization. There are, in fact, exceptions (I nonetheless recall 2013’s Remember Me, for one), however by a broad margin, Dontnod’s finest (and best-known) titles have fallen alongside these strains. Twin Mirror, their newest effort, is a little totally different, although. Unlike the Life is Strange titles and Tell Me Why, Dontnod has opted for a single-release story this time round, starring a forged of grownups. And they’ve taken the chance to leap, headfirst, into the foreboding waters of an investigative thriller.

Twin Mirror‘s narrative opens with a former journalist, Samuel Higgs. He’s driving down nation roads, on his means dwelling to the agricultural West Virginia city of Basswood. Unlike a sure tune, although, dwelling isn’t the place the place Sam belongs: He’s solely there to attend the funeral of a pal, and is in any other case estranged from many in Basswood. They blame the closure of the city’s mine and Basswood’s subsequent decline on the work Sam did for the native paper. When he left, few anticipated him again and had been glad for it.

Sam himself isn’t in precisely one of the best place both, mentally talking. Twin Mirror sees Sam in near-constant dialog with what can solely be described as a double of himself. This double (the character is unnamed) is invisible to others, however serves as a foil of types, difficult Sam’s decision-making and rationalization. The sport’s main choices are additionally typically framed as a alternative between going with what Sam thinks and following the double’s steerage. It’s a relationship that borders on antagonistic, with the way in which that the double continuously needles and negs on Sam, however on the similar time one by no means will get the sense that the double is an enemy, and even a frenemy. The double’s interactions with Sam are like these of an adopted, elder sibling, and regardless of the clear affirmation that the double doesn’t exist, the dynamic appears like probably the most actual factor within the sport. That’s partly on the power of the dialogue writing, but additionally as a result of by comparability, Sam’s different interactions with the characters of Twin Mirror come throughout as considerably stiff, their supply and animations not fairly matching the dramatic tone the narrative calls for. Granted, stiff appearing in sport cutscenes is a matter as previous as cutscenes themselves, however the distinction of scenes between Sam and the double and scenes between Sam and everybody else makes that stiffness stand out much more on this case.

Another characteristic helps Twin Mirror set itself aside from the pack: an investigation element. Sam’s obtained fairly the knack for uncovering the reality, and his sleuthing expertise come due to an nearly supernatural potential: The Mind Palace. Seemingly pulled straight from the BBC Sherlock TV sequence however really rooted in Greco-Roman reminiscence workouts, the Mind Palace is a method designed to assist a particular person recall info by imagining it in spatial phrases, putting “items” of reminiscence in distinct areas round a psychological panorama. Twin Mirror amps up the Mind Palace idea by rendering as a separate dimension that Sam can enter, inspecting details and scenes frozen in time. It’s a enjoyable and novel visualization, particularly since I personally am fairly bored with Augmented-Reality-style “Detective Vision.” The sport additionally makes use of the Mind Palace fairly creatively, initially exhibiting the area as a secure, unspoiled panorama, that slowly will get altered as Sam’s circumstances (and psychological state) deteriorate over the course of the story.

That deterioration isn’t a spoiler: Twin Mirror is a thriller, in spite of everything. But what’s stunning is how shortly issues go downhill. While its key options and relationships are robust, the sport’s narrative foundations really feel like they’re constructed on sand. The sport begins slowly, letting Sam sink in a bit and reintroduce himself to a city that hardly acknowledges him, however issues escalate quickly—too quickly. Subplots and storylines that includes facet characters get little time to breathe, and sometimes really feel dropped unceremoniously as the principle plot picks up. As a consequence, it appears like Sam barrels from scene to scene like a practice on rails, fairly than a character following their instincts (or the recommendation of their invisible pal).

I’m not often the sort to ask for a sport to be longer, however Twin Mirror may have used an hour or two to assist fill out its pretty compact six-hour working time. If something, it appears like the sport has suffered from its authentic plan to be a three-episode title, compressed to suit a single launch. The casualty of no matter chain of choices led to that shortening was the sport’s pacing and characterization. It’s a disgrace, as these points dampen the affect of what may’ve been an engrossing yarn, one which dabbles in complicated dilemmas and comprises some really intriguing characters. In the top, I spent extra time reflecting on what Twin Mirror may’ve been as a substitute of on what occurred.

Twin Mirror is out there on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.