ARTIFICIAL OR BORN…….
Over the recent months, I have found myself growing more and more smitten with Daedalic Entertainment. Their Deponia series was a nostalgic trip to my earliest days of gaming, with an art style, humour, and gameplay reminiscent of the likes of Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island that instantly pulled my heartstrings and their take on the amazing episodic interactive drama, Pillars of the Earth only went to further solidify that literature can be fantastic source material for video games. So when I had their latest offering ‘State of Mind’ offered up for a review, I instantly jumped for it once I saw their logo plastered on the trailer, and though I found some high points in the mysteries behind its narrative, the overall pacing of the story, relatability of the characters and sluggish mechanics ultimately left this title flawed.
State of Mind takes place in a strangely Americanised version of Berlin in the year 2048, where we meet our lead character, Richard Nolan. After a car accident that leaves him hospitalized and his head rattled, he returns home to discover his wife and child are gone and actually haven’t returned home in quite some time and though his story begins with the somewhat simple task of finding his family, his journey takes him deep into a conspiracy that could shake the very core of reality itself. Though the mysteries and the conspiracies in the story were the driving force that kept me playing for hours on end so I could uncover the next twist or revelation, I felt that its overall playtime could have benefitted from being perhaps an hour or two shorter as it tended to drag along and become tiresome in my opinion. Another aspect that seemed to detach me from the experiences State of Mind had to offer was the lack of investment I found in its core characters, to put it bluntly……RICHARD NOLAN IS A DICK! His constant skepticism, ornery attitude towards the vast majority of the people he comes across and come to his aid and overall likeability creates a disconnect between the lead character and the people that are controlling him, even picking the kinder dialogue options doesn’t help his case.
State of Mind boasts an art style that is unique and help make it stand out amongst some of the other games out there in this day and age, but its heavy polygonal (if that is even a word!) look of the characters and the world surrounding them lacks a certain quality to it (even with its effective use of cell shading) and the stiff movements, off lip-syncing of the cast and the dry, uninspiring voice acting only adds to this. The world of State of Mind is also equal parts Bladerunner and Mirror’s Edge and though there isn’t a vast amount of different locations there are times where you just want to stop and appreciate what has been crafted around you, the futuristic views, buildings, the brights and the gloominess of the colour scheme and the vast horizon is actually one of the high points of this title and shouldn’t go unappreciated. And even though the music found in State of Mind is minimal and lacks variety it creeps around in the background just enough to create a subtle atmosphere in every chapter that is also a very nice touch.
With this game having an extreme emphasis on narrative, there really isn’t all that much to State of Mind’s gameplay to write home about. Go from point A to Point B, find a certain someone, gather information and go to your next destination. The constant backtracking quickly becomes monotonous and the mini-games and puzzles that you find every now and then are pretty straightforward and easy to overcome. Hacking drones and cameras go hand in hand with the more stealthier parts of the game and fit in with the time period, environments and the plot quite well, but with the sluggish, wonky wheel like movements of the controls, you are brought out of the experience quite often. Each place you explore has more and more information to divulge which gives you a reason to check every part of each room you enter, with notes and info NPC’s have to offer, understanding more of this world seriously helps you along the way. The ability to switch between different characters throughout also adds substance and a slight sense of freedom to this game and gets the old brain ticking, especially later on in the game.
STATE OF MIND IS AVAILABLE NOW ON PS4, XBOX ONE, NINTENDO SWITCH AND PC
GAME CODE WAS PROVIDED BY DAEDALIC ENTERTAINMENT