Dystopian worlds where trans-humanism is the only direction technology has left to go isn’t exactly a new concept. However, State of Mind shows the contrast of the real world and a simulated one from the eyes of inhabitants of each world.
Richard Nolan is a journalist living in Berlin in 2048. After waking from an accident in a cab accident he realises he has lost his memory and his family are missing. Adam Newman is another journalist, living in the digital world. The two men are connected by having shared memories of the same accident and very similar lives. By trying to piece together the truth of their fractures memories they both aim to find out what is really going on and what really happened at the time of the accident.
Storytelling is the main focus in State if Mind so it features very little action and instead relies on interacting with the environment and making choices to tell you about the world and change outcomes. Besides the story of Richard and Adam there are various other characters that the game centres around and players will get to learn about and even play as at some points. The evolution of the plot from a simple drama into a thriller about a wider conspiracy always kept my attention as I played through the game and made me want to find out what was going to happen next.
There are a few different ways in which player interactions go beyond pressing a button such as hacking mini games, puzzles in which you have to find various objects, change entire landscapes of rooms or navigate a building using its vents as a drone. My personal favourite puzzle is used at various points as you start to piece together the past. Separate panels which make up different environments have to be changed to make a sort of mini simulation around Richard so he can convert the memories into data which are then relived digitally by Adam.
I found myself making a gradual change in personality for both characters and the way they interact with the world around them as a result of regaining Richard’s memories and finding out the truth of what happened. For example, Richard is very much opposed to the idea of technology going to where it is with things such as house bots. Once I regained some memories though and some realisations were made I had Richard become more laid back about it. There was a certain aspect of the digital world that was the biggest thing for me that made me want to change Richard’s ‘I don’t care it isn’t real’ attitude about it. I was actually really impressed with how some of the decisions which are more morally correct (in my opinion) for some situations actually forced Richard to compromise his beliefs about technology.
Being a 3D Adventure game without much action means that story, art style and world design have to carry the game and thankfully all are good. The unique low-poly art style was brilliant! My only criticism with it was that the character faces clearly couldn’t convey emotion that well as a result of it but you get used to it after a while. Mixed with the contrasting worlds of the real, grimy, neon lit streets of Berlin and the Digital, clean and bright City5; you get a sense of everything being fractured.