Review: State of Mind (Xbox One)

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  • Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One, releases August 15th, 2018
  • Also playable on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & PC

Note: The review embargo for State of Mind is today, Monday August 13th 2018 however the developer, due to State of Mind's focus on narrative and storytelling, has asked that we hold any video footage after the game's introduction until the game releases on the 15th. This post will be updated with more video content on Wednesday.

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Out this Wednesday is the latest point-and-click adventure game State of Mind from German developer & publisher Daedalic Entertainment. Daedalic, since it's creation in 2007, has been making a name for itself as a standout in the narrative adventure & point and click genre with highlights such as the Edna & Harvey series, The Pillars of the Earth and the tactical turn-based RPG series Blackguards.

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When mind and machine become one – what will remain of humanity? That's the core theme at the heart of State of Mind's journey. The narrative adventure is set in dystopian Berlin, Germany 2048. Society's on the brink of collapse as poverty, illness, lack of resources, and robotics threaten the human way of life. Is there hope, salvation to be found? A colony on Mars? Super AI? Trans-human adaptation and Virtual Reality? Government Conspiracy? Does any of these intrigue you, strike your fancy? If so, I'm willing to bet you'd really enjoy the story that State of Mind sets out to tell. There are similarities to Blade Runner, I, Robot, Ready Player One, Surrogates or Ex Machina if you're looking for them so if that's your kinda story this is your kind of game. The plot, the focus and main offering to be had with State of Mind, is a fun one but also difficult to dance around and avoid spoiling any of the fun. Let me just say the following:

  • If you think you know where it's going? You don't. Trust me.
  • For me, the ending was worth the journey to get there.
  • The best parts, as with all adventures, is in the details, the sub-plot and supporting characters so take your time and READ everything. It's a slow burn State of Mind that peels away layer after layer with ever rock you turn over.
  • You'll control several characters which allows the player to experience the story from multiple perspectives.
  • It's a mature, adult themed game thus the M rating (17+) a rating I agree with, definitely not suitable for the kiddos.
  • In total, I think my main campaign took me about 8-9 hours to complete over a 2 day period taking time to capture video/moments along the way.

Visually State of Mind is intriguing. The characters are all created out of this polygonal-triangle makeup that reminds me of how characters looked back in the early days of 3D graphics in the 90's, but much much MUCH better. Actually, considering the theme, it's a great fit as the character models add to the tech-y, sci-fi scheme most of the game is going for with most of its more impressive and stylized, grungy, neon lit environments. It's unique and a standout for me during my playtime. Several times during the game I used the left stick to just pan across the world around me. My only complaint with the visuals is that I wish there were more variations of NPC models present in several environments like the club, workplaces, streets and sidewalks. It's definitely noticeable more than once that a crowd was really more like 3-4 characters duplicated over and over (really, why are so many of the male characters wearing the same infinity scarf?). The overall use of textures, color and shapes is a simple but impressive one and definitely hits the science-fiction, almost cyber-punk scenery I believe the developers were trying to accomplish.

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As an adventure game built around point-and-click commands you already know what the gameplay consists of. You'll walk around, reading / interacting with objects and characters unlocking clues you'll use to progress the story along. Par for the course right? Thankfully, Daedalic has thrown in an OT flavored curve-ball to alleviate the repetitiveness that comes with the formula so often. Throughout my campaign at times I took control of drones that required a FPS-like mini-game or stealthily eavesdropping a conversation. There's also some minor hacking, phone calling, and several environmental picture-based puzzles that largely shake you from my one gameplay complaint, the walking. While never a deal breaker, you'll spend most of your time in State of Mind walking from location to location, character to character, and item to item and I must admit the floaty, tank-like walking controls weren't the best I've experienced. Characters feel like they have a large/wide turning area and even the smallest objects obstruct your path which combined had me stuck on corners or running into and along walls and other boundaries. I do wish there were more action-oriented moments to be had in the story as they're definitely the highlight of the campaign, but I also understand the slower, more investigative chapters enhance the chaos later on.

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I played State of Mind on Xbox One X where it performed pretty smooth throughout the game. There were only a couple, minor, seconds at a time where I thought I recognized some slowdown. I did get stuck on a couple elements of the environment, mainly desks/chairs in the office spaces that required me rebooting the last save point but the saves are generous and it only happened twice. Chapters, environments, and scenery load times were pretty reasonable, no more than 20-30 secs or so each time. I'm most intrigued to find out how the game performs on Nintendo Switch as there's just not a comparable experience to be found on Nintendo's handheld. Xbox and PlayStation have similar games from Tacoma, Fragments of Him and Firewatch. State of Mind could be a stand-out for Switch owners looking for a narrative game to get invested into if the frame rate and load times are reasonable.

I'll look to update this review with some Switch coverage as its made available from other outlets.

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I'm quite impressed with the story and experience State of Mind offers. The characters were believable, and as much as they can be in a dystopian, science-fiction setting... grounded. Humans are human, they're flawed and live complex, messy lives just like we do. The result is a storyline that I was invested in on a personal and global level. Additionally, I really enjoyed the linear gameplay. In a world with more and more complex decision and skill-trees, State of mind keeps you focused on the task at hand and moving forward. Unlike other adventure games / walking sims, you won't find yourself lost or not knowing what to do often.

The elephant in the room for many gamers, I believe, rests with the asking price of $40. A lot has been said this generation about the demise of the middle "B-Tier" games with the rise of mobile and independent game development, but that's kind of  the space where State of Mind is trying to fit into. The story's really good and so is the art and style, but it's not at a level above and beyond an Edith Finch, Firewatch, or an Everybody's Gone To the Rapture all of which launched at much lower prices.

Should you dare to buy in from the start or wait for a sale, I think you'll find a rewarding weekend of linear-adventure gaming with a neat, boundary pushing story.

Final Verdict 78/100