State of Mind Review

In the not too distant future, two very different men from two very different places find a reason to believe there is a link between them, a link that when fully explored may change their lives forever. In a world in which technological advancements have surpassed the evolutions of society and resources have become sparse, Richard Nolan, recovering from recent trauma, discovers his wife and son are missing and turns to darkened streets and digital underworld for answers. Meanwhile, Adam Newman, residing in a far of the utopian city of plenty, also struggles to recover from an all too similar event and is destined for a rude awakening with the discovery of how closely his life is tied to that of a far-off stranger and what it will mean for his future. This is our State of Mind review.

In State of Mind, Daedalic has created a world that focuses on the idea of the integration of technology into the lives of everyday citizens and the lengths that humanity will go to create what, to some, may be considered a better evolutionary path than the one their world presents is forefront in this title. Transhumanism through technological advancement, in this game, is a mainstream ideal as the world has reached a point so bereft of resources that even the privileged are looking for a way to escape their reality. Richard Nolan is an accomplished, and even famous,  journalist whose focus has been to reveal how much technological “conveniences” are being abused by the governing powers to influence and control lives. As such he has become a cynic and sees conspiracy all around him, contributing to his avoidance of and disdain for implementation of technology in everyday life. When he realizes his wife, Tracy, and son, James, have disappeared, however, he finds he must cross the boundaries of his own standards and that of the law to follow the trails that might lead him to reunite with them. With the help of a few friends, a lover (yes he is cheating on his wife), Lydia, friends from his work, Steve and Walter, and a new acquaintance, Jeff Kosowski, a prominent figure in the underground resistance group called Breakpoint he finds the means and ability to traverse this mystery-strewn path towards finding his family.

Interspersed with Richard’s adventures are the events in the life of Adam Newman, an entirely different type of writer in an entirely different kind of atmosphere. In a bright world of plenty, it may seem that Adam has everything going for him, and you would be right. Perhaps that alone has him feeling out of place, but it when the family doctor, Dr. Sykes, and Governor Cain begin to take a special interest in his son, John, doubt begins to set firmly in his mind and opens the way for information that will reveal just how not right his life actually is. Oddly enough, Adam, whom everyone seems to genuinely like, finds himself alone as he looks into puzzle truth and lies that encompass his life.

The visuals of the game consist of artistically impressionistic polygons that lend themselves well to a story that requires a questioning of reality and creates some visually appealing backgrounds. The dynamic lighting of the two different cities is also a great vehicle through which to convey the stark differences in their lives. This simplified polygonal style, however, seemed to be resource intensive, oddly requiring my PC to work harder than it does with most high detail games.

The game is a narrative, linear story with very few story-changing choices to be made (this is, after all, the journey of the story characters), and just as few incidents of action play. Instead, it is engineered as a mystery adventure in which the story itself is intended to compel the player onward to find the clues that will ultimately lay the truth bare. Defined as a technological thriller, I did find the story intriguing at most points. However, I found the game to be somewhat lacking in ingenuity and tended to be somewhat predictable. The physics and movement of the characters the player controls tended to be unwieldy and awkward and the puzzles presented were overly simplistic and easily solved. The most challenging puzzle I encountered included interaction with a Buddha statuette in order to calm a haywire stereo.

At one point in the story, Richard tasks Adam with finding fragments of his memory uploaded into a database that would help Adam see the truth. The odd thing about this is that the majority of these memories were not Richard’s at all, but that of other peoples’ around Richard. As I completed the game, I was left with a lot of questions unanswered, or even addressed at all, as the story was driven past these questions or focused on other aspects altogether. However, Daedalic’s goal with this game was to introduce ideas and open discussions into them, and that may be a part of why so many things were left unexplained, using the hopefully piqued curiosity of the player to encourage deeper discussions or thought into what was left unfulfilled.

One thing that I do appreciate is that they recognized and use the vehicle of gaming as a workable, productive, and even ideal arena to introduce and engage in conversations of relative pertinence to our lives, what our lives may become, and how we approach considerations of options.

Note: Our copy was reviewed on PC with a code provided by PR.

Compare to:

  • Life is Strange
  • Gone Home
Summary
All in all, I found the game to be interesting, and that there are few real action incidents the awkwardness of the avatar movements could objectively be viewed as another way to enforce the idea that the world is out of kilter. While I think the game does achieve the goal of introducing conversational contemplation regarding digital transhumanism, I also think there were various ideas and questions of equal interest or importance that were raised throughout the story and were bypassed entirely in favor of reaching their end goal.
Good
  • Interesting story
  • Intriguing ideas
  • Well crafted ambiance
Bad
  • Overly easy puzzles
  • Unwieldy avatar movement
  • Fairly predictable plot
6
Fair

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