It’s the 11th of January, 2048. In two different cities, two different men awake after suffering identical injuries in identical accidents, resulting in what seems to be an identical amount of memory loss. Despite being separated by distance and circumstance, it’s clear that these two men are connected. Released 30 years prior to the events of the story by Daedelic Entertainment, State of Mind is a narrative focused adventure game which asks its players to unravel the events of the accidents that the main characters have suffered. As more information reveals itself, you will not only learn how and why these two are connected, but a conspiracy encompassing all of humanity will start to unfold. Welcome to the darkness of Berlin, and the brightness of City5.

Gameplay

Those that play State of Mind will quickly realize how much it relies on its narrative. 80% of the game consists of moving your character and interacting with objects or other characters. The other 20% are small spurts of simple gameplay in which you instead pilot a drone to interact with objects or characters, or aim a laser to shoot at robots. This normally would not be a problem, but what gameplay is present is uninspired. Characters cannot make tight turns when moving faster than a walk, the inability to move at varying speeds makes the drones difficult to accurately control and the lack of impact and weight when firing the lasers makes them unsatisfying.

Story / Personality

In State of Mind, you follow two main protagonists; a famous investigative journalist named Richard Nolan living in Berlin and a news writer named Adam Newman living somewhere called City5. Both of these characters are involved in an accident while riding alone in a taxicab (cabs are automated in this world, so they are the only ones involved in the accident).

Both characters suffer from memory loss and begin their tales trying to unravel the events of their accidents. However as they piece things together, they find that their lives are intertwined within a plot to download human consciousness into a digital utopia. The story is definitely where State of Mind shines but unfortunately, it takes about two to three hours for it to start shining. I was rather bored throughout the opening events of the game until a particular scene in the back of a nightclub where an element of the story is revealed that made me sit forward and say “woah.”

Enjoying our There is a lot to appreciate about this game, both what’s shown to you and what’s revealed in subtext. The game gives you the ability to “examine” items or people, which brings up a small bio about what you are looking at. When playing as Richard, examining things will give you a generalized overview of what the examined subject is. When playing as Adam, you will get a generalized overview of how the examined subject relates to Adam specifically. At first, when I examined Adam’s son, John, and read “your son is the most important person in your life, make sure he is always happy and taken care of,” I felt as though the game was trying to get me to care about its characters without putting in the effort to do so naturally. However as the game progresses, and you find out the truths about Adam and how John fits into the narrative, this detail specifically makes a lot of sense in hindsight.

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As far as subtext goes, more astute players will find a lot to discover. Something rather obvious is that Richard and Adam’s apartments have identical layouts, but the fact that this highlights their similarities while the differences in their lives are symbolized by the fact that Richard’s city is constantly overcast, while Adam’s city always has clear skies and bright sunlight, is not as obvious. It is hard to deny that almost every decision made in the design plays into the story that State of Mind has to share, which I applaud it for. Even the game’s visual art style plays into its narrative, but to explain how would spoil the story.

Graphics / Art Direction

Perhaps the aspect of this game that warrants the most criticism is its choice of art style. State of Mind uses low-poly character models set in realistic environments. While this is definitely a unique choice which sets itself apart from other games and I did just applaud it for its significance in the narrative, that does not mean I enjoyed this decision. The irregular juxtaposition of jagged edges on a person while they walk through a city with smooth letters on the signs around them and detailed bricks on the buildings can come off as awkward at best, and abrasively ugly at worst. Under certain lights when every single polygon on a character’s face is shaded differently, it makes characters that are supposed to be beautiful in-universe come off as hideous. Not only that, but neither age nor emotion can be conveyed well in this art style. In a scene where Adam is watching a moment from Richard’s past, he needs to comment that Richard looks younger because you would not have been able to tell otherwise. In a narrative driven game, immersion into its world is paramount for making you care about what’s happening, so it’s a shame that the game’s own art style is immersion-breaking.

What upsets me most is that this visual choice is not consistent. All characters are low-poly, but so are the vehicles. When I saw this, I thought all humans and things man-made are low-poly, however the buildings are not. Since buildings are just as man-made as cars, the only thing I could think of to find consistency was that things that need to be animated are low-poly, and things that do not need to be animated are realistic. If it were not for the fact that so many elements of this game are purposeful, I would think that the art direction was chosen to save money. I don’t believe that is the case, however it’s a tempting thought to consider.

This issue is made worse by visual issues and glitches that are somewhat common. Character models are reused more than one would think with the simplistic visual style. This is in tandem with glitches one would expect from larger, more graphically intensive games like characters suddenly returning to a neutral position in a single frame, or the player character falling through the floor when approaching a corner wrong.  

On a more positive note, the game’s two main locations of Berlin and City5 look nice and feel unique. Richard’s apartment and Adam’s apartment have identical layouts, but still feel different with their selection of furniture and technology.

Music / Sound Design

Save for a few scenes where the music heard in the game is in-universe, State of Mind enjoys a light piano accompaniment mixed with subtle electronic undertones that gives the game a relaxing ethereal feel, which contrasts the dark and serious nature of its story.

Its voice-acting is very hit and miss. Richard is voiced by Doug Cockle, the voice of Geralt from The Witcher series. Those familiar with the RPG while not familiar with the actor will still recognize him, as I’m almost certain that the voice director asked him “Can you please do Geralt?” This was definitely a purposeful decision as Geralt’s voice is not Doug’s natural speaking voice. While Doug is talented and his performance is great, I feel the voice does not match the character. Richard is supposed to be an everyman, in over his head as he tries to make his way through the chaos he’s thrust in. The fact that he sounds like a gravelly voiced, combat-hardened man is a poetic mirror of the mistakes made in the visual design. The rest of the main cast does a good job, while the supporting roles could have used a few more takes.

Stand-out roles for me are Adam, voiced by Ronan Summers, and Richard’s robot house servant Simon, voiced by Akie Kotabe.

Final Score: 63%

State of Mind has a brilliant story concept, but it's a shame that the game is mired by a massively poor decision. I found myself trying very hard to ignore the visuals of the game in order to appreciate its story, which started to become a chore towards the last third of the game. Nevertheless, there is a lot to dissect and appreciate in this game’s narrative, so those that do buy State of Mind will not be disappointed if that is what you look for in your games.

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