Twin Mirror – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure game, Interactive story
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Dontnod Entertainment, Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PS4

Twin Mirror – Review

Site Score
6.8
Good: Great graphics, interesting story, cool mechanics
Bad: Steering narrative, controls sometimes wonky, abrupt ending
User Score
5.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 5.3/10 (3 votes cast)

Twin Mirror is the latest game of Dontnod Entertainment, the studio famous for Life is Strange. Twin Mirror is another interactive story, but this time it’s contained in one game, instead of several episodes. The game is not long; it’ll take 4-8 hours to play through the story once. This game has some interesting mechanics, like a ‘mind palace’, used to analyze situations and an invisible friend who helps you to choose appropriate dialogue options. Twin Mirror lets you investigate the death of an old friend in a small American town you once lived in and will set you off on an emotional rollercoaster through your past.

Story

Twin Mirror tells the story of Sam Higgs, who once left the little mining town called Basswood but returned for the funeral of his friend Nick, who was killed in a car crash. As you play through the game, you’ll learn more about Sam; who he is and why he left the town. You’ll also learn about Nick and you’ll be able to meet many people who played a role in Sam’s and Nick’s lives.

Sam is not that eager to dive back into his old life and meeting his old friends manages to whip up some bittersweet memories. As you talk to people, you’ll discover that Nick’s death is actually rather suspicious, and you decide to investigate, staying longer than you planned.

Strong memories and careful investigations will trigger a special mental state in Sam: the mind palace. Here time will be frozen, and Sam will be able to analyze the situation meticulously. You’ll also quickly notice that Sam has a mental guide in the form of another man, who gives him advice on how to react in difficult situations. This guide is especially useful in helping Sam in situations which require empathy; something Sam isn’t very good with.

The story unfolds as you talk to people, explore memories in your mind palace and travel to several locations. This way you’ll both learn about what happened in the past, about the mysteries surrounding Nick’s death and the secrets within Basswood.

This game features several different endings that will unlock based upon the choices you make in the game. Most of the game will just inform you of what happened and allows you to gather information and choices you make in the beginning won’t impact the ending. The path you choose in the last few scenes will have an impact on which ending you’ll get. However, based on the actions you take throughout the game, you can make up your mind as to how you picture Sam’s moral compass.

Graphics

The graphics of this game are beautiful; it’s like playing through an interactive movie. The UI is minimal, and UI elements only appear when needed. The mind palace is especially beautiful; it looks like shattered glass or ice, which connects the different memories. Sometimes the mind palace can get really twisted, resulting in a bizarre and disorienting look, fitting to the narrative.

Sound

This game plays like an interactive movie, and the sounds reflect that. All characters are fully voiced, and the sound effects are fitting to the actions which happen in-game. The music and ambient sounds fit the atmosphere of the scenes very well.

Gameplay

Twin Mirror is an adventure game in which you’ll play through an interactive story. You’ll be able to make choices during conversations with the many people you meet, and you’ll be able to experience different endings based on which options you have picked. You’ll experience this story from a 3rd-person perspective. You can decide where Sam; the protagonist, goes and who he talks to, and you’ll be able to choose from several responses during conversations. You’ll also be able to interact with many objects in the environment, and everything contributes to the overall story. Choices you make during conversations might influence the reaction of the person, but will not have an impact on the eventual outcome of the game, except at the very end. You will also have the option to listen to your mental guide, as Sam is not really adept at talking to people. The mental guide’s advice is most of the time valuable for getting people to like you.

You’ll be investigating several things which happened in the little town called Basswood. As the story progresses, you’ll encounter several mysteries you can unravel. Generally, this means you’ll gather clues by searching an area or talking to people, and then piecing everything together to come to a conclusion. Piecing together happens in Sam’s mind palace, where you can create a replay of events, based on the clues you find and how you interpret those.

You’ll investigate clues by clicking objects or groups of objects, and checking each object individually. This means moving your cursor over each item and interacting with it. This is a bit wonky on the PS4, where you’ll need to move the thumbsticks around randomly until the interact button appears on an object since there isn’t a cursor visible on the screen. Clues will be added to your mind palace until you’ve gathered all clues and then the analysis will start. For each clue, you can generally choose between two options of what might have happened. You can experiment with different options but the game will steer you towards the only solution which is correct. Sometimes the hints seem to steer you towards a different solution, but there’s no possibility to solve a mystery incorrectly, so you’ll always continue with the right answer.

Because of some events or memories, Sam will get into a mental breakdown, causing him to turn inwards and get trapped in his own mind. To solve this and get back to your right state of mind again, you’ll have to play through a minigame representing Sam’s distress. You might have to search for the image of his mental guide or navigate frantically through an unending maze. These minigames are interesting; they are always different and the rules aren’t clear as you encounter them, so you’ll have to follow hints as you try to progress. There’s no drawback when you take a long time to solve the games, but the narrative makes it feel like you should hurry.

The different endings are a fun addition to the game. It’s hard to predict which action will steer you towards the best ending, so you’ll most likely end up with a suboptimal ending on your first playthrough. However, you’ll be able to replay scenes from the game’s menu after you finished it, so then you’ll be able to experience the different outcomes of the story.

Conclusion

Twin Mirror is an interesting interactive experience with some great concepts. The mind palace is a fun mechanic and the idea of a mental guide who advises you is also great. However, the story is pretty linear, and many things you do won’t have a lasting impact on the story. The game steers you towards empathic reactions, while Sam’s natural instinct is to choose rationality over empathy. Choosing the rational option is generally bad, while it would have been nicer if both the rational and the empathic options would have advantages and drawbacks. The hints aren’t always clear; sometimes you’ll be 100% sure you need to choose one option in your mind-palace and need to experiment endlessly with the different combinations until you’ve found the right one because you misinterpreted one clue. The controls aren’t always that intuitive, especially when investigating groups of objects or playing the mini-games as it’s hard to target a specific object with your controller. Overall, Twin Mirror is a nice experience with a good story, beautiful graphics & sounds, and a great concept, but it would be better if there were more options to influence the story and multiple ways to get towards a good ending and change relationships based on your conversation choices. The ending also seemed rather abrupt, with a lot of things unfolding and coming together in the very last scene, without much of a build-up to it.

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Rating: 5.3/10 (3 votes cast)
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Twin Mirror - Review, 5.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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