After the success of Aer: Memories of Old, Daedalic Entertainment have branched out into another indie with a lengthy narrative using the same quirky graphics, under the name State of Mind. This new release is a futuristic thriller set in a world dominated by technology and divided by the rise of artificial intelligence.
The narrative of this neo-noir thriller is relatively slow-paced and unravels through the eyes of the two-central protagonists, Richard Nolan and Adam Newman. These two men cast a perfect parallel to each other yet are tied together by the same tragic car accident. Adam for example is a successful journalist living in a bright and airy apartment with a happy wife and son, Richard is his polar opposite. Aside from sharing the same occupation Richard could be no different to Adam, his marriage is in tatters and his wife and son are missing. Since waking from his coma Richard senses something is severely wrong in his once regimented life. To find his missing family and return order to his torn life he must enlist the help of Adam, someone who may not be as far from his world as it would first seem.
Although mundane tasks overwhelm the initial proportion of the game, there is purpose in these small accomplishments. Augmented reality (which is installed into the minds of citizens) allows for markers to be placed on specific items which in turns carves out minute details in the story. Investigate a green marker over the radio and you can learn the extend of violence in the city, visit your wife’s study and her rushed disappearance will become more unsettling. Examining most things in the environment reveals hints, relationships and the state of the world and although optional, exploring the world reveals tensions and character traits through subtle details.
A main competent to State of Mind is switching characters to best face each scenario, as the game is broken down into semi-open world sections which each character is limited to. Adam’s perfect world is littered with misplaced data fragments, broken memories from Richards life that have fragmented space and time and now cause instability in Adam’s own world. Although Adam cannot read these fragments Richard can, allowing players to move between each character collecting and then deciphering the data, and unravelling State of Minds interconnected and stimulating story.
The world of this thriller is a divided one. Robots have infiltrated people’s homes and personal lives, and although designed to alleviate the stresses of everyday life, things have slowly gone array. Rouge drones murder innocent people in the streets, buildings become missile targets and in the lower parts of town, raids have left settlements and villages inhabitable and coated in ash. Richards world is dark and dingy, his friends are drug addicts and mentally ill overworked journalists. A frequent theme in his world is the colonising of Mars, something which alludes to the desperate nature of those living in West Plaza and how desperately they want to leave it behind. In Infinity Tower Adam’s city is a utopic version of perfection, and even though his own personal life is tainted by the accident, quarrel is rare here. Humans and robots live in peace only threatened by rouge data transmissions. The striking opposites between each character and their lives makes State of Mind a thoroughly enjoyable game, as each chapter feels innovative and fresh.
For an indie game the running length is curiously long, character arcs are paved out and developed over the course of the game with careful consideration into how characters grow and adapt. However, the repetitive data harvesting formula paired with the lengthy running time, creates a grinding atmosphere, making it a little harder to pick this indie up again after each time you put it down.
Visually the game is an eye-catcher, Daedalic Entertainment have retained the block-esque art style that they are known for and it pays off. State of Mind feels more impressive because of the portrayal of characters in this style. Seeing multiple characters rendered with the same model, differentiated only by their characteristics and individual quirks never failed to impress me.
Whilst State of Mind boasts an impressive level of immersion for an indie title, its let down by its content. Half is exciting and fresh and involves unravelling the plot and exposing the secrets of the game, whereas the other half feels like filler. It’s a slow burning mystery and one that has a great finale and conclusion, but slow gameplay may result in the stones in this thriller being left upturned.
*review code kindly provided by the publisher for honest review*