State of Mind is a story-driven adventure game that takes us on a morally challenging journey through one of the most iconic Sci-fi settings seen in a video game. Combining these atmospheric visuals with the wonderful cinematic sequences, excellent voice acting and captivating narrative and State of Mind takes you on a rollercoaster journey that everyone should embark on.
The game is set 2048 Berlin, where you play as technology-sceptic journalist Richard Nolan. The opening sequences lead you to believe you’ve been in a car accident, but it doesn’t take long for you to start questioning this information. What’s worst, when Richard returns home his family is nowhere to be found. The main emphasis on the game narrative revolves around the hunt for Richards family, but while on this 10-hour adventure you’ll see the perspective of this futuristic world from the eye of other playable characters and uncover conspiracies fit for any sci-fi blockbuster movie.
Richard Nolan is a journalist for Berlin’s leading news provider, The Voice, where he writes about how the rapidly growing use of technology is affecting our lives as humans. But with the use of technology seeming over-populating this futuristic take on Berlin, Richard will need to either overcome his ideologies or find way around them if he’s to solve the mind-boggling mystery to his families disappearance.
Without delving into any spoilers, State of Mind manages to go just about as deep as any sci-fi narrative you’ve seen in a video game and is all the better for leaning heavily into this genre. What’s better is how it manages to humanise almost all character you’ll meet and interact with, especially the non-human androids. This mostly is due to the excellent voice acting that helps every scene come to life; action sequences can make you feel on the edge of your seat, domestic arguments can make you feel empathy and eye-opening discoveries can easily make your jaw drop. The delivery of almost every characters dialogue is perfect for their visual representation.
Although the voice acting is of the highest quality and really helps build the cinematic performance of the game, unfortunately, the visuals actually let State of Mind down in this department. Now, before I go it to why, let me just say that the low-poly art style on offer here perfectly compliments both the aesthetics of the game and the futuristic setting. I honestly wouldn’t have the visuals any other way, but it’s due to their low-poly style that some real emotional sequences fail to hit home, especially when the game decides to move in for a dramatic close-up. This really isn’t a huge issue but did draw me out of what could have been some extremely powerful and provocative scenes.
As I previously mentioned, State of Mind really goes for that straight out the cinema cinematic feel, and in all honesty, it absolutely nails it. Moving through the interesting environments will see moments where the camera seamlessly take over and you’ll be treated to a short cutscene, only for the camera to move back into the over-the-shoulder view with as much ease. But the camera work is just half of it, add in the atmospheric soundtrack that mildly sweeps in to ramp up the drama or emotion and you have a wonderfully realised sci-fi story that hits all the right notes.
State of mind is a cinematic adventure game that sits in a similar vein to Quadmatic Dream titles in terms of its gameplay. Most of the time you’ll be playing detective; piecing together articles clippings, rebuilding data sequences and manipulating your way past security systems. In all honestly, gameplay starts a little slow, which is only natural due to the sheer about of story and context State of Mind need to bring you up to. But as you progress through the story both the challenge and substance of the puzzles increase, all while maintaining to naturally fit into the game’s narrative.
Another area that requires player interaction is within the dialogue choice system. As you’d expect with a game of this genre, your decisions can have a real impact on the story, but not really until the dramatic close of State of Mind. Early on you’ll need to respond to stereotypical questions that change the way some personal relationships pan out but don’t really have any impact on the over-arching story. That all changes as you come to the close on the game and you’ll be put in situations where your personal investment with the different characters will be put the ultimate test.
State of Mind is quite possibly one of the best story-driven games I’ve played in recent years. Its iconic low-poly visuals both boost the overall aesthetics while causing a detriment to what otherwise is a host of excellent character performances. Joining Richard on his quest to find his family takes you on a true rollercoaster ride through a deep sci-fi narrative and a wonderfully realised futuristic world, all of which make State of Mind one of the must play story games of 2018.