State of Mind is a new indie adventure game developed and published by Daedalic Entertainment, the developers behind Silence and publisher of Shadow Tactics: Blade of the Shogun. The game is set in Berlin, 2048, and covers topics like transhumanism (the artificial evolution of humans using technology), surveillance and totalitarianism.
It’s been just 2 weeks since I posted my preview for State of Mind. With such a small window, I wasn’t expecting much to change, and I was largely correct. Most of the information in my preview is still relevant, so much of this review will be the same.
Upon starting the game, I was pulled into a beautiful, bright nighttime cityscape, reminiscent of other familiar sci-fi cities, such as those in films like Blade Runner. The low-poly models, despite their lack of curves, make for incredibly immersive, visually stunning scenes, characters, and objects that, in my opinion, work better for this game over “realistic” graphics. The game plays in a very close “over the shoulder” third-person perspective. In the beginning, I struggled with having so much of the screen obscured by the character, and the lack of the inclusion of a FOV slider gave me few solutions to this issue. Thankfully, within less than half an hour, I’d become used to the perspective and it no longer phased me.
As I’ve already mentioned, State of Mind is set in Berlin, 2048, where technology is king. Self-driving cabs and flying buses are the norm, “bots” have claimed many public service jobs, and most of the population is artificially augmented (not to the contentment of all citizens, as players soon discover).
In State of Mind, you play as Richard, a pessimistic journalist with the determined belief that technology will be the death of mankind. But you also play as Adam, an optimistic father who just wants the best for his family. That’s right, multiple protagonists. Unlike most games, I’m used to, where I can design my character and their story from the ground up, in State of Mind, the characters you play already have all that lined up for them. They already have people they like and dislike, they have jobs and they have their own agendas that you as the player must accommodate. I thought I would have trouble switching between characters and not knowing who I was (I’m not the best with faces), but Daedalic made it easy to identify who was who with clear and simple changes in the environment. Pessimistic Richard wears dark clothing and lives in a dark apartment overlooking a dark, dirty, dystopian city. Optimistic Adam wears lightly coloured formal clothes and lives in a large, bright, spacey apartment overlooking a shining, colourful utopian city. These small changes made all the difference for me and made it much easier for me to digest the story in a way I might not have been able to have both characters been given similar, generic clothing and residence.
When I played the preview version, I could only play as the two previously mentioned characters, Adam and Richard, but in the full game, I also experienced playing as Tracy, Richard’s wife, almost 2 decades before the events of the rest of the game. Daedalic says State of Mind contains 5 playable characters, but at the time of writing, I haven’t played as anyone other than these 3 characters. Just like Adam and Richard, Tracy is unique and has an interesting story, with established relationships and problems. As more characters are introduced, I feel that just identifying characters by their surroundings will no longer be possible, because multiple characters will exist in the same spaces. Thankfully, I noticed while playing that the loading screen image changes depending on who you will play when the scene loads. Notice in the image that the character is a man and has a shape down his chest, indicating a necktie, part of the formal attire that Adam wears. When loading Richard, the character features what looks like a cardigan over a t-shirt, and when loading Tracy, the character is a female.
The game delivers an engaging and intense story riddled with interesting questions about technology, transhumanism, and other related themes. Daedalic’s Community Manager, Lisa Mallory, told IGN “every action will have a consequence”, and said how you interact with certain characters can influence the story later down the line. The game features only one ending, but your path to it depends on your choices and interactions throughout the game.
In the full version, I saw this more evidently than I did in the preview version. Conversations with Richard’s house bot were slightly softer, I had the option to talk to the bot (who is called Simon) in a kinder and more understanding way. Richard seemed more willing to help Simon when he didn’t understand, and conversations lasted longer. I also noticed a homeless man outside Richard’s apartment, who called me a Saint after giving him my last snack bar. I imagine these are the sorts of things that will help me later in the game.
In my first hour or so with State of Mind, I had trouble navigating levels and completing certain objectives because State of Mind doesn’t use objective markers, or even a mission title or hint. I found this to be excellent for exploration (and these levels really do deserve to be explored) but not great for ease of use or clarity. There were times I hadn’t listened properly to NPCs or forgotten what I was doing and I had no support to help me out, which often left me wandering the level looking for anything to interact with that might progress the story. This was frustrating in the moment, but as a result, I quickly learned the layouts of the most common levels like Richard and Adam’s apartments and learned to pay more attention to NPC dialogue.
I had hoped that in the two weeks since my preview, this would be the one thing Daedalic might improve on. Sadly, there is still no mission hint, which provides no solution to the whole “aimless wandering” thing. This point is emphasised when returning to the game and not remembering what you were doing. I found this even more frustrating this time around, as the story became more complex and tasks were not always clear.
One thing I hadn’t commented on in my original preview was the mini-games. These include things like picking certain pieces of data to match together to find information about someone, or trying to arrange fragments of a memory to get the whole picture. While these are quite fun and a nice way to break up the game, they can be confusing with very few, vague hints to tell you what to do.
Both Richard and Adam have augmented-reality systems implanted in their eyes which highlight and distinguish things that can be interacted with and things that can be looked at in more detail. Despite the number of the things you might think a person could interact with, the levels typically aren’t crowded by the little green markers and work effectively to help the player navigate the world.
Character movement is floaty but realistic. If you suddenly change direction, the character will not react instantly as they do in some games, but they will take time to slow down, and will walk in smooth curves when you turn. This took some time to get used to and even after 4 hours of gameplay, I still feel clumsy with my movement.
I must be honest, I was left largely disappointed with the lack of “quality of life” controls I found just a few days before public release. Even though I can comfortable play State of Mind the way it is, I feel FOV sliders in video games are a must, and the lack of them in State of Mind is a shame. I don’t personally suffer from motion sickness, but I know an adjustable FOV helps for some people, and I worry that the close camera angle and small FOV will cause some players to feel uneasy. The movement hasn’t been altered, as far as I can tell, and feels just as soft and mushy as before. Load times, thankfully, seem to have improved slightly over the beta version, which is only a good thing.
While State of Mind doesn’t have incredible, photorealistic graphics or fast-paced gameplay, it offers an interesting and engaging story, with fascinating characters and beautiful stages. At £25.99 at full price (10% off until August 16th) I would recommend State of Mind to anyone looking for a new, unique story game. State of Mind will release on PS4, XBox One, PC and Switch on August 15th.