DONTNOD Entertainment has made a name for itself over the PlayStation 4 generation thanks to the compelling narratives of two Life Is Strange titles. The tales of Max Caulfield and her buddy Chloe Price as well as the brotherly duo of Sean and Daniel Diaz have both helped to really launch the developer into the public eye, but now it's time for something slightly different. Twin Mirror is its latest PS4 project, and while it too is all about the story it's trying to tell, the studio is going about it in a much more cinematic manner. On the level of a Sony first-party exclusive, this is not, but it's definitely not too far off. This all makes for what is far and away DONTNOD Entertainment's most cinematic and best-looking experience yet.
Everything about Twin Mirror feels deliberate. From intentional camera angles and purposeful, moody lighting right the way through to wide shots that set a certain tone, the game appears to guide the player down certain paths rather than giving them the keys to the palace. Twin Mirror still places a heavy emphasis on making choices and selecting dialogue options, but this time around, they seem to be more about having an impact on a narrative set in stone rather than one of your own. It doesn't look like you'll ever be locked out of the title's biggest decisions based on previous choices. However, Twin Mirror comes across as an experience that has really taken the time to construct a believable storyline no matter which route you take.
It's probably also a good idea to have an inkling of the sort of plot you'll be impacting. You play as Sam, a man returning to his hometown of Basswood to attend the funeral of his late friend named Nick. He doesn't think he'll feel welcomed following the events of his past, but respects simply have to be paid. Sam plans to be in and out of the place as quickly as possible, except rather inevitably, something keeps him there for much longer than anticipated.
Sam isn't alone in this endeavour, however. He is accompanied by an alter ego only visible to his own naked eye. Designed to help the protagonist through social situations, this doppelgänger offers alternative viewpoints during important decision-making scenes to make sure Sam considers every approach to the choice at hand. It is currently unclear whether or not the alter ego will play a more important role in the story, only appearing in a meaningful manner once during the 20-minute demo, but it's still an interesting feature all the same. Gone are the moments when you make a quick decision in an instant -- you'll always be made to consider the judgement from every angle.
In other aspects though, Twin Mirror plays out like a typical Life Is Strange title. You'll be free to roam the environment, interact with objects as you go, and learn more about your surroundings. An all-new user interface delves into backstory once you uncover optional interactions and different text messages can be sent to other characters depending on your relationship with them and mood at the time. DONTNOD took everything it has learned over the past couple of years and crafted a more intuitive title in every sense. Again, it feels like a much more cinematic take on the studio's philosophy.
Twin Mirror does introduce one entirely new feature, however, and it sports a name you may have seen in other detective-minded games throughout the generation. The Mind Palace is a place Sam can go to in, well, his mind, and it triggers the playback of certain memories. They play out in real-time in front of him, with the demo deciding to focus on the reason Sam is so apprehensive to return to Basswood. Unfortunately, this sequence gives way to a bit of awkward writing during a proposal scene, so let's hope that's something which can be cleared up before release. On the whole, though, DONTNOD promises that it has its own spin on the mechanic up its sleeve -- something it plans to share more details on as we near launch.
The proof will be in the pudding, but Twin Mirror comes across as a more mature, cinematic take on anything this French studio has done before. In taking a page out of Sony's book, the game feels like a much richer, compelling, narrative-focused adventure that we can't help but get excited about. If some of the writing gets another pass and the Mind Palace turns out to be an excellent feature, DONTNOD Entertainment will have yet another winner on its hands.
Twin Mirror launches on PS4 at some point during 2020 and is a single, cohesive title. It is not episodic. Are you interested in checking the game out? Explore your own Mind Palace and extract some thoughts in the comments below.