by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
In a dystopian future where people can upload their minds into a virtual utopia, what would happen if the upload process went wrong? This is the question at the heart of State of Mind’s double narrative, taking place partially in the dystopian physical world and partially in a digital utopia. We got a sneak peek at this project at Gamescom in Cologne and, as a lifelong adventure gamer and a narratologist, I can’t help but be intrigued by this title.
Richard Nolan, a technophobic journalist, negligent father, and overall horrible husband, wakes up after some kind of event with a somewhat patchy memory of his life. The journalist, who has always been critical of technological advancement, has been subjected to a mind upload. Only, the process was incomplete. He is still running around in the physical world while a copy of him is walking around in cyberspace under an assumed name (presumably because he couldn’t remember his real one). When he comes home, he finds out that his wife and child are both gone, uploaded into the secret virtual world.
Now Richard has to find out who, what, how, and why and to accomplish this, he must not only get in touch with his alternative reality self, but convince them that they are not real. Whether this works, we’ll have to wait till release to find out, but the interaction between the two worlds and the piecing together of Richard’s fragmented mind are sure to prove to be interesting tasks for narrative enthusiasts.
The game is a third-person adventure game featuring very colourful poligonal aesthetics with which I for one fell in love on sight. If you’re thinking: this sounds a lot like a walk-and-talk game like Dreamfall: Chapters, you’d be a reasonable individual, but the design team sports three gameplay designers whose sole job it is to make the game function not only as a story to be told or a world to be experienced, but as a game to be played.
A Glimpse At The Talent
Martin Ganteföhr is the Creative Lead behind State of Mind. His past as co-founder of and creative director at House of Tales paints a picture of a man dedicated to narrative excellence with titles such as The Moment of Silence and Overclocked: a History of Violence. 15 Days, however, was not generally well received, but was mostly criticised for its lacklustre puzzle design and praised for its story. Let’s hope the three game designers know what they are doing and the team manages to deliver a unified experience featuring solid gameplay and a story worth exploring.
The Moment of Silence, which is available on GOG.com and Steam, delivered a surprisingly accurate image of the world in 2044 for a game that has just turned 12 years old; featuring self-driving taxis, smartphones used to talk, pay, and identify yourself with, and relationships that exist only online. It will be interesting to see what promises State of Mind makes of the future.