State of Mind marks developer Daedalic Entertainment’s most ambitious project yet. Centred around the concept of transhumanism; the theory that humans can transcend their current physical and mental limitations with the use of technology, State of Mind takes a fresh approach to dystopian fiction with its unique blend of contemporary sci-fi.
Set in 2048, this futuristic thriller follows the parallel stories of technophobic journalist Richard Nolan (voiced by The Witcher’s Doug Cockle) in dystopian Berlin and his virtual double Adam Newman in the digital utopia of City 5.
Awaking from a car accident, Richard returns home to find his wife and child missing, with no memory of the event or indication of where they have gone. Richard’s pursuit to find his family embroils him in a complex mystery spanning both the real and virtual world.
The game’s boldly unique art-style creates distinct, stylised dystopia and utopian aesthetics across the two worlds. Influences like Blade Runner and Deus Ex are clear in the game’s visual design, however the balance between clean minimalism and environmental detail combined with the sharp geometry of character models ensure this future feels familiar yet fresh.
Equally, similarities to the narrative pace, dialogue options and world building of fellow story-driven adventure games like Life is Strange allows this game’s structure to be familiar and accessible.
Dialogue options throughout the majority of the game customise your experience in subtle ways but can be a vague and seemingly inconsequential, however some pivotal choices towards the story’s conclusion manage to make your input feel significant.
While I found myself constantly motivated to see where the story would take me next, I was at times disengaged due to some mid-game pacing issues. A tendency to rely on cliches dilute this otherwise intriguing and intricately woven plot, making it feel somewhat convoluted and distracting from the strong central themes of family and identity.
With one playthrough taking approximately 8 hours, State of Mind feels a little padded and overly long. Perhaps playing in shorter, episodic-style sessions would rectify this fatigue.
While the game’s dialogue is usually solid, it is often uninspired and at times unintentionally goofy and funny. Characters sometimes speak to one another in a very unnatural way that does not feel like an authentic conversation, and lines that are meant as sincere can come off as sarcastic.
Additionally, while Cockle’s gravelly tones and dry wit felt perfectly suited to The Witcher’s Geralt of Rivia, as Richard, a man seeking his missing family, his delivery seems misplaced. Richard’s actions make him a deeply flawed person, partly sympathetic and partly abhorrent, yet this duality is rarely conveyed convincingly, with Cockle excelling at sassing androids yet falling flat at times of vulnerability or introspection.
Thankfully the strength of the world building and the compellingness of the overarching sci-fi themes kept me invested. Additionally, the introduction of playable sections in the game’s later half which explore sub-character’s experiences help flesh out the world and story, while introducing some variety in terms of themes and gameplay.
A handful of creative environmental and investigative puzzles punctuate exploration and dialogue which constitute the majority of the gameplay, while moments like Adam’s visit to Liquid Sky, an interactive art installation, further diversify the experience. The game’s conclusion is gratifying if not a little anticlimactic and the story manages to tie its many threads together cohesively.
Despite its inconsistencies, State of Mind is an exceptionally enjoyable and compelling narrative experience that I cannot help but like. This unique vision of the near-future is filled with intelligent, original ideas, immersive details, beautiful visual design, evocative music and a huge amount of charm.
State of Mind PS4 Review
State of Mind’S unique sci-fi world, bold geometric aesthetic and charm greatly outweigh the shortcomings and inconsistencies of its plot, writing and performances.
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Reviewed using base PS4.