Score: 8/10          |        ADVENTURE        |        SCI-FI THRILLER        |          THOUGHT-PROVOKING

“The developers of State of Mind went out on a limb with the low-poly art style of the characters however I felt this connected perfectly with the world they were living. Couple this with the great music and ambient sounds created a chilled mood whilst playing through the story.”

State of Mind is a futuristic adventure game developed and published by Daedalic Entertainment. Released via Steam on 17 August 2018 for us Aussies, the game delves into transhumanism and the effect this has on humanity, both in the dystopian present and utopian alternate reality. There is very little combat in this game, rather it centres around a thought-provoking story-driven thriller as you use detective work, puzzle solving and conversations to work out your next moves.

I stumbled on this hidden gem back in July when I reviewed aRPG Victor Vran. Veteran voice actor Doug Cockle voices Victor Vran and is also the voice of Geralt of Rivia. I followed Doug on Twitter and noticed he was involved as a voice actor for this upcoming game State of Mind. I watched the trailer and I was hooked, not just on the visuals but the music in this trailer, ‘Reality Cuts Me Like a Knife’ by Faada Freddy, had me mesmerised. This is my new favourite song, for reals! Have a look/listen for yourself.

State of Mind is set in Berlin in 2048. The world lacks resources; illness caused by polluted water and air sees sick homeless people on the streets. Drones and Artificial Intelligent robots are taking over human jobs and there is a feeling of oppression. You start out playing Richard Nolan, a journalist who was injured from an explosion caused by terrorists. Richard, voiced by Cockle, wakes up with very little memory of the incident. Once he returns home, he finds his wife Tracy and son James are missing.

There is clearly some friction between Richard and his wife based on notes she’s left behind, and she has bought an AI robot called Simon which she, in Richard’s eyes, probably did knowing he hates AI and the technological advancements happening in the world. He writes as much in his published articles for ‘The Voice’, of which he’s previously won a Pulitzer. You must help Richard work out what has happened to Tracy and James and try to remember the events leading up to the explosion.

Straight away the visuals of the world looked like scenes out of Deus Ex and Blade Runner with dark and futuristic outdoor scenes featuring neon signs. The characters used interesting low-poly models which initially felt a little weird but as you transitioned from the medical facility, your home and then out onto the streets, the low-poly characters fit perfectly in this game. As Richard starts calling family and friends as to the whereabouts of Tracy and James, we learn that Richard and Tracy’s relationship has been strained for quite some time. You start to feel the frustration Richard is feeling as no one is really helping and if anything, are accusing him of cheating on Tracy.

Soon after, the game switches to you playing as Adam who has wife Amy and son John. Adam has recently been involved in a taxi crash and he too has very limited memory because of the accident. Adam’s life feels opposite to Richard’s. The scenes are lighter, and he has a much better relationship with Amy and John, as well as Adam being more accepting of AI and technology. I did get a slight sense of rigidity in Adam’s interactions with his family. Amy is very busy with her work and James seems quiet and distant. I worked out why this was the case later in the story.

As you move through each scene, green triangle icons highlight objects that you can interact with. Some objects are placeholder elements such as toys and picture frames, whereas some can be interacted with such as a your Cloudhub (laptop) and Holoboard. The green icons also help you figure out where to go next when in the larger open spaces. At first this was very helpful, however later in the game I felt they took away some of the challenge in finding critical quest points. Instead of searching each corridor, i just ran through the scene scanning for green triangles.

The game switches back and forth between Adam and Richard as you start to learn more about each character. Sometimes the story does this for you while other times you need to exhaust all options in all scenes with one character and switch to the other using the holoboard in your home. Throughout this process, you come across data fragments which are key elements connecting the story. I won’t say anything more than that for fear of spoilers. You also get to directly play five other characters over the course of the game as you unravel the mystery around a government conspiracy.

Items within a scene can hold clues for how to progress the puzzle or challenge in that scene. For example, at one point you need to make a sleeping formula, so you can inject it into someone nearby. Clues are left for you in notes/objects around the room. Other puzzles you will face are hacking terminals where you have two spinning wire balls and moving the mouse in a way to bring them together and holding that position for 3 seconds. Other scenes in the game remind me of the movie ‘I, Robot’ where you control robots and drones. One of the better puzzles involves a 360-degree mix of tiles of scenes. The first tile is the starting point, then you need to rotate through each tile until you form a matching scene which can then be uploaded.

The overall mood of State of Mind coupled with the perfectly melded music and ambient sounds created a very chilled playthrough for me. Often, I would find myself almost dozing off, which is not an indication of getting bored, rather of how relaxed it was making me feel. The way the story developed was very intriguing and made me want to keep playing so I could find out what happens next. I was heavily invested in trying to help Richard through his plights, attempting to correct some of his wrongs and what’s happening around him in his world. Towards the end of the game, I had a couple of critical choices to make, so there are a couple of alternate endings to the game.

Overall, I gave this game an 8/10. The developers of State of Mind went out on a limb with the low-poly art style of the characters however I felt this connected perfectly with the world they were living. Couple this with the great music and ambient sounds created a chilled mood whilst playing through the story. There was good use of puzzle solving and detective sleuthing which helped to progress the story and through several critical decisions, you can work towards the best possible outcome for Richard.

This review was compiled using 10 hours of gameplay. The game is available now through Steam for US$29.99.

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