Twin Mirror: bold narrative adventure with no real heroes. French game studio Dontnod loves the supernatural. The team’s breakout hit was the original Life is Strange, which starred a young girl who had the power to rewind time. The sequel featured a young boy with telekinetic powers, and in 2018, the studio covered in roleplaying games with Vampyr, which put players within the role of a bloody-minded denizen of the night. however, around 2016, the team decided they needed to create something a little more grounded.
They eventually landed on the thought for Twin Mirror, an adventure game about a former investigative journalist named SAM who ventures back to his town following the death of his best friend. Naturally, he gets bound up in an exceedingly a lot of larger mystery involving the complete town. SAM does have some video game-esque abilities — as well as a “mind palace” for piecing together clues and solving mysteries — however, there aren’t any superpowers or mythological creatures.
“You want people to be able to understand the mystery,” game director Florian Desforges says of the choice to eschew the supernatural. “Yes, there are some supernatural components in how we display Sam’s distinctive mind, but the story itself, the logic of what’s happening, the motivation of the characters, all of this can be rooted in reality.”
While the team knew from the start that they wanted a grounded story, it took time to work out what that story would be. The issue, according to Desforges, was that simply because a story is fascinating, that doesn’t mean it offers interesting ways that to interact with it. What created SAM and his quest to uncover the secrets of his town compelling, says Desforges, is that it struck a balance between those 2 factors. The team loved the character and mystery, however, they were additionally excited about making ways for players to inhabit Sam’s investigative mind. “We were quite convinced we found the right combination between these 2 aspects,” Desforges says.
However, around 2018, the team did some major transforming of the game based on playtesting, including restructuring it into a single, non-episodic experience and pushing back the release date. they had all of the correct elements, however, things simply weren’t gelling. “Trying to separate it into pieces, generally it had been breaking down the rhythm,” says Dontnod’s head of publishing Xavier Spinat. the method concerned some intensive rewrites of the story to create it flow as a seamless whole, similarly as restructuring the logic of a number of the choices. Much like Life is Strange, Twin Mirror plays out as a third-person adventure game, one wherever players move with the worldet|the globe} but also build crucial decisions that may influence however the story plays out. A key distinction could be a tone. as a result of it’s billed as a psychological thriller, the team at Dontnod wished to make sure that Twin Mirror felt tense. Originally, the plan was to release Twin Mirror as a series of episodes, a lot of like Life is Strange.
Twin Mirror takes place in a settlement in West Virginia, that is turning into something of a topic for Dontnod. The French developers appear significantly crazy with Americana; the first Life is Strange took place within the picturesque Arcadia Bay, a fictional town in Oregon, whereas its sequel was a desperate road trip that spanned from Washington to Mexico. The upcoming Tell Me Why, meanwhile, is about in Alaska. “As a thriller, we were searching for something with some character,” Spinat says of the West Virginia setting. “We also wanted a place that wasn’t an enormous city.”
The new game is slated to launch later this year, and it’s returning to PS4, Xbox One, and pc (it’ll be an Epic Game Store exclusive for one year). Twin Mirror has been in development for many years, and, as is that the case with most games at the moment, that method has slowed recently because of the continuing pandemic. Dontnod’s production is a significant international one; it’s a French studio operating with a Japanese publisher that has testers in Romania, motion capture work done in Germany, actors in Poland, and voice recordings were done in the US. Managing all of that has been tricky, however, the team says production continues to be going strong.
“We have still managed to maneuver forward,” says Spinat, “but way more slowly than we might like.”