State of Mind review (Xbox One/PC)

Daedalic, the German adventure game specialist, has finally released their sci-fi thriller State of Mind for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC. We played both the PC version and Xbox One version of the game, which we first saw in action back in 2016.

At Gamescom that year, we met with Martin Ganteföhr, previously a writer for other adventure games – including The Moment of Silence, which I personally really enjoyed. State of Mind also features a near-future scenario, but this time it’s one that features very present day elements like the rise of AI, interconnectivity through the cloud and virtual reality. It also has a rather unique look to it, so we were keen to learn more. Luckily, Daedalic had already announced a Q1 of 2017 release date – even though Ganteföhr was a bit skeptical about making that timeframe when we met in August.

state of mind3

And then it went quiet for a while, and now we’re in August of 2018 and finally playing the full game. Luckily, the setting and narrative still hold up very well. State of Mind is a tale of transhumanism, in which we see a bleak picture painted of what today’s technology might evolve towards. Surveillance is everywhere, as everything is connected to everything – and drones and androids do a lot of our work in Daedalic’s version of Berlin in 2048. It’s a very different kind of narrative and game, but when I first heard about Detroit: Become Human my thoughts went to “whatever happened to State of Mind?” for a reason.

Although technology features heavily in State of Mind, it essentially boils down to two very human stories that you’ll alternate between (funnily enough, another parallel with Detroit). In one, you’re following journalist and techno-skeptic Richard Nolan. In the other, family-oriented Adam – and of course they are destined to collide as well, quite literally in this case.

What follows is a tale of conspiracy, mystery, mistrust and doubt – all crafted together using a fascinating storyline worthy of the techno-thriller premise of the game. It’s quite linear in nature and doesn’t have the branching storylines that make games like Life is Strange so interesting to play a second or even third time, so in some sense you’re mainly a viewer who gets to watch the script unfold.

state of mind

The gameplay itself is fairly straightforward, with a mix of examining/using items in the world and talking to people. Although I grew up playing keyboard-driven adventure games and later switched to mouse-controlled ones, State of Mind of perfectly playable with a gamepad – I actually preferred it, even on the PC version.

The game’s audiovisual design is an interesting one as well. When we talked to Martin Ganteföhr about it he mentioned that the low-poly look of State of Mind was partly an artistic choice and partly a budget-driven one. Using this visual style enabled a smaller team to work within a limited budget and still craft a somewhat unique style for the game – rather than going with a traditional 2D look or something that resembles the Telltale games.

To me, it feels like Ganteföhr and Daedalic succeeded in what they set out to achieve. State of Mind is a decent narrative-driven adventure game set against a fascinating and thought-provoking backdrop, and should be played by anyone who enjoys a good techno thriller. As a modern day adventure game, however, the linear nature of the game might work against it. For me, it’s a pretty good alternative to the AAA sci-fi thriller that is Detroit.

Score: 7.5/10

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