Dontnod's Twin Mirror returns to the studio's B-movie roots
It's been several years since mystery thriller Twin Mirror was first announced - and since then it has remained something of a mystery itself. Originally pitched as an episodic thriller set in small town America, its initial reveal suggested similarities to developer Dontnod's Life is Strange teen drama series.
Now, Twin Miror has emerged a little more - and it feels much more in line with Dontnod's other work, such as its fun B-movie sci-fi game Remember Me. There's a main character who re-analyses old memories in the third person and a big question mark around their own identity - the twin in the mirror of the game's title. Oh, and as announced last month, it's no longer episodic either.
Main character Sam Higgs is a former investigative reporter and gruff James McAvoy lookalike, returning to his hometown for the first time in years to attend an old friend's funeral. He narrates his own surroundings in a manner reminiscent of Alan Wake, and dwells upon objects linked to his past.
The game opens with Higgs stopping en route to the funeral service to look out over the place he grew up, at a viewpoint where he once proposed to a former girlfriend. She rejected him - marriage was something they had talked about and decided against, she says in a flashback - but it holds bad memories.
Flashbacks are witnessed via a stroll through Higgs' mind palace - a beautiful 3D environment where paths and memories are illuminated like the glass fronds of a chandelier. Here, Higgs can brood for long periods - so long, that when he wakes from his thoughts he has missed the funeral in question.
Dontnod has said it wants this game to be more grounded in reality than some of its other work, which has mixed vampires, time travel and telekinesis into its human drama. But there's something else going on here too, in the form of an identical twin personality who pops up to argue with Higgs when he tries to decide what to do next.
These are the moments you'll be guiding the narrative, based either on what Higgs thinks himself or the viewpoint of his "twin" - a character who looks like him but with a snazzier haircut and glasses. There are no right or wrong answers, Dontnod has said, suggesting there isn't a Jekyll or Hyde path to play the game. But decisions will have lasting consequences.
Arriving at the wake, Higgs is met outside by a 13-year-old girl revealed to be his dead friend's daughter and his own goddaughter. There's a confrontation over the fact he abandoned her after leaving town, but the two reconcile. The next big choice comes as she asks Higgs to investigate the circumstances surrounding her father's death. Should he give her false hope there are further answers behind his death, beyond a routine car crash?
Twin Mirror is still not giving much away, though the suggestion is certainly that there are mysteries to uncover in the town linked to his friend's death, and ones which will see Higgs having to reconnect with other figures from his past life. Dontnod appears to be lining up a more grown-up, broody take on its narrative adventure formula - though there may yet be another personality hidden away under the surface.