I grew up loving point and click adventures and in recent years that evolved into enjoying the episodic games from Telltale. But I always find myself returning to the classic story telling that point and click adventure games provided, uncovering the story via detective work and following clues to reveal a bigger story. So, when approaching State of Mind it had already ticked a good few boxes with me thanks to the setting and sci fi feel to the thriller and suspense style of mystery game.
You start the game in the role of Richard Nolan who is being rushed to a medical facility following a car crash. Richard has suffered some memory loss which has all but wiped out the last couple of weeks memory meaning Richard has no idea how the crash happened but is able to remember who he is, his job and who his family are. We learn that Richard is also a journalist and harsh critic of technology which is interesting as the setting of the story is in the near future where technology is advanced enough that robotic life has become part of everyday life with servants in every home an drone systems serve as security throughout the city which has a very clear divide between people with money and those without. Richard heads home after some treatment expecting to find his family waiting for him but soon uncovers the truth that his wife and child have vanished and he beings his search for them. The story then switched to another character in Adam Newman who is very similar to Richard but he is clearly a man of wealth living in the very opulent part of City 5 compared to the very typical bleak overpopulated Berlin where Richard calls home. Soon the story will bring these two together as Richard asks for Adam’s help in the search for his family and their two lives become entwined as the story unfolds.
The first thing that hits you as the player is the visuals and art style of State of Mind which can be a little jarring at first. Every character model is a blocky mess of polygons which instantly reminded me of early MTV music videos using computer generated models for the first-time years ago. The futuristic word is wonderfully created using this style however and whilst it may not have the same detailing as another title like Detroit Become Human, it still managed to immerse players enough in the world that it feels real enough. The only issue I really had with how the player models were designed was that they failed to really convey some of the emotions that dialogue scenes and major events need throughout the game.
Gameplay wise State of Mind actually surprised me somewhat in how it very much takes the detective style of point and click games to tell its story whilst rather refreshingly avoids including of any combat at all. As this is the future, Richard has implanted technology as everyone does in the world which enables him to interact with technology but also to identify objects and people and get immediate information about them. Like the visuals this can feel a little strange and clumsy at first but the further you venture into the story the more accustom to it you become. Probably as a result of just how clunky and clumsy character movement can feel in the game, the decision to not include any type of fighting or combat is wise as I said above. Just moving around can feel awkward so attempting to put any form of combat in there would really feel out of place and just wrong. By focusing the gameplay on finding clues and investigating what happened to Richard’s family which works really well though some of the puzzles can be rather simplistic at times.
What was a very pleasant surprise was finding out that the typical futuristic world setting which sees robotic life mixing with that of humans is not the focus of the story and so avoiding the very cliché oppressed robots rising up against the humans. Instead the game very cleverly focuses on the very real themes of just how far can technology can go and be integrated into our daily lives. Richard as a character is very much a person pushing back against such technology advances and he had a real distain to the robot servant in his own household which is seen in how he quickly becomes angry when interacting with him at the start of the game. It explores the themes of whether or not technology is a tool for humanity or if we will grow to depend on it far too much and therefore losing what makes us human in the end.
The one really annoying aspect to the game however is Richard as a character and mostly because of the delivery of the voice acting for him. With the visuals making every character look blocky and wooden, having the dialogue given in the same wooden style really doesn’t help at all in connecting to him as a character. In the beginning as you start to piece together the early clues as Richard discovers his family gone, I failed to really sympathise with him simply because of how dickish his character is written. The way he speaks and interacts with their house servant robot Simon hammers home just a little too hard how much Richard is pushing back against the integration of robot technology into his life. It carried on through the story and I never really managed to care enough about him as a character to want to solve the mystery for him rather than just finding out what happened for the story itself. Thankfully you do spend some time playing as Adam and two other characters but Richard is the one you will always come back to.
State of Mind is a good thriller and mystery game that has a solid and steady pace for the most part and allows players to piece together the story on their own terms. Progression is fairly linear there is still some freedom when exploring areas and the story is allowed to unfold per each discovery you make so you never really feel left out when it moves forward. I especially like how player choice can decide the ending be it good or bad with four possible outcomes depending on the choice you make but the story will give you enough information in order to make an educated choice at that point.
This is a very different game and at this time when silly season is about to start with heavy hitting big name game now launch on an almost weekly basis until the end of the year, State of Mind is a nice step outside the conventional box which delivers a good story which is told very well but perhaps due to the style of the game would be one to pick up in a sale rather than rushing out to experience right now. I enjoyed the puzzle solving and exploration of the story but would have preferred some more challenging ones along the way to step things up a bit. The movement animations feel heavy and clumsy throughout but then the game does not require precision to trigger interaction with things and hopefully could be polished a little more in future title updates.
I enjoyed State of Mind as a fan of sci fi and mystery thriller games and whilst it doesn’t push the envelope in any real way, it focuses on the mystery and uncovering the truth well enough to make this a game worth investing some time into as it has a relaxing pace which is a nice step away from all the high action games available right now. If nothing else, this has made me appreciate the idea of having a robot butler in my life within the next 25 years and Richard has taught to follow Wheaton’s Law when it comes to dealing with our robotic children.