After 2 years away, Sam Higgs has returned to the old mining town of Basswood in West Virginia to attend his friend's funeral. However, he soon finds himself in trouble and must rediscover the town to uncover the truth of what really happened.
In Twin Mirror, you play as Sam Higgs, a journalist who's known in the town of Basswood for being responsible for the eventual closure of the mine that employed a big chunk of its population. Sam left the town a couple of years ago after feeling shunned by society for doing something he deemed good as he reported on the poor working conditions at the mine.
However, Sam returns to Basswood to attend his friend Nick's funeral although he never actually goes to the funeral as he decides to shrug it off and walk around the outskirts of town. Unfortunately, this disrespect for his friend is only the start of what amounts to a character that has very few redeeming qualities. Early on, you find Sam starting a bar fight after getting blackout drunk then later, he sets someone's art piece on fire so Dontnod really missed the mark at making a protagonist that I would actually care about.
There's a good variety of townsfolk that you'll meet while uncovering what happened to Sam's friend and as you play, you'll unlock tidbits of info about them that go into your journal and you can also collect character-specific mementos throughout the campaign. Anyway, Anna is Sam's ex-girlfriend and was Nick's girlfriend before he passed who recently spent time interviewing people who live in temporary housing and are down on their luck. Joan is Nick's daughter, a young girl with fierce independence who feels alone after losing her father and seeing her mother deal with mental issues. Meanwhile, Walter's an altogether good person who cares for his team of journalists. There are also some seedier characters like policeman Declan who clearly has something to hide and Dickie with his constant jitteriness which is unnerving as you talk with him. The voice acting is done well as it brings home each character's traits in how they talk.
The town of Basswood and the campaign in general are quite small. I enjoyed seeing the detail within some of the isolated mountain village scenes, especially around Anna's house. However, the areas that you investigate are tiny and there's not much variety in them. You'll also often see texture pop-in which seems to occur frequently in most Dontnod titles but it's more prevalent here.
Another downside is that Twin Mirror isn't really much of a detective game. You gather clues on occasion but not as many as I would have hoped. Once you piece them together, you're taken to Sam's mind palace where Twin Mirror actually does a pretty good job of having you apply some deductive reasoning. The scenery turns to geometric glass shapes, obscuring anything around you other than the key items in the scene. Then, you look around for possible scenarios of what might have happened and make choices to determine the chain of events. As you watch the events unfold, you might decide to change one of your choices based on what occurred and you'll eventually figure out what exactly happened. Most of the time, you'll actually use your brain to piece things together although there were a couple of scenarios where I felt like I was merely exhausting all options until something clicked.
As I mentioned, Twin Mirror is a short game and the fact that whether or not it would be episodic changed multiple times during development really comes through. Plus, the ending is abrupt and the mystery itself lacks a sense of slowly uncovering pieces and putting them together. There are also multiple endings but even those have some of the exact same conversations between the characters but with a different backdrop. On top of that, you meet Sam's imaginary friend at the start of the story who seems to constantly bug him as if he's an alter ego but nothing really comes of that character other than making Sam look crazy when he's talking to himself.
Twin Mirror is a passable mystery adventure with a varied cast and the occasional satisfying use of deductive reasoning but its story and protagonist leave a lot to be desired and on top of that, it's far too short.
- + Sam's mind palace is a cool concept
- + Some interesting visual effects
- + Solid variety of characters
- - Not enough problem-solving is involved in uncovering the mystery
- - Short narrative that feels rushed
- - Main character is hard to root for