This is the latest episodic series from DONTNOD, known for the Life is Strange franchise among other narrative driven games. This series is told over three episodes with the release schedule being a week after one another. During the review period I was able to play through all three episodes and this article is reflective of that. There shouldn’t be any spoilers and that should allow for a fresh play if you so choose to take a gander at what this game has to offer.
This story follows twins Alyson (Erica Lindbeck) and Tyler (August Aiden) Ronan as they embrace the past in an effort to move forward. The two have been split apart from each other for a decade and are meeting once more in order to sell their Alaskan childhood home. It’s a story about grief and the emotional bond between siblings after a traumatic event. It’s an interesting setup, with you directly making choices that influence the direction of the experience. It’s about on par with similar choice driven games from the group, so expect that sort of direction as things start to wrap up.
This does also cover some very important modern social issues, in a respective way. It’s actually quite educational, and with that I think very much a needed presentation of a trans based story. It’s not entirely focused on just that aspect, but it’s a big part of what this story hinges on and I think they handled that aspect very well. Moving past that, this is a story about discovering the past among secrets that maybe should have been forgotten.
It’s not an action game, and while heavy on mystery it’s not really much of a thriller. I did find parts of it incredibly boring and the pacing could have been better. This is a meaty story in terms of content, but I felt they could have focused things more or had some sort of extra hook to it. It seems like they were sort of teasing that direction, but it doesn’t necessarily hit that sort of high level of intrigue that I had expected. It really is just a well done tale about loss, connection and dealing with the fallout of situations years later.
This is the pinnacle of DONTNOD’s visual style that really kicked off with Life is Strange. This is a very gorgeous games, it’s beautiful and full of lively depth. Each scene is filled to the brim with items, and interactive points. There are collectibles to discover which I suggest you grab and many extra little secrets. They have unique puzzles to work through, with options to skip them violently if needed. It’s a mature story, with some content that does help make this an even better narrative.
I did notice some performance dips throughout the episodes. With this being a slower story heavy game those weren’t of any issue to me. It really was just stunning to see, from the cinematic transitions to the style of how character models were presented. They’ve nailed their artistic aesthetic and I can’t wait to see what sort of games come from this style in the future. There was of course once again a good balance of music, emotion and tone throughout each of the scenes.
It was neat to see the effect of my choices and the actions of the various characters thrown into this intimate tale. There was a decent selection of unique environments, and shifts within them if you happened to visit the same spots multiple times over the course of the story. There’s also a neat memories aspect I should mention, but I’ll only lightly say it’s there so that it can be fresh when you’re seeing it for the first time.
Tell Me Why is a solid experience that presents important modern social issues in a respectful and educational way, while also dealing with heavy emotional grief. I really liked the story they were trying to tell here, it’s a very different type of game. I understand this won’t be for everyone, and I didn’t anticipate where it would head.
I did find some elements predictable as it progressed, but I was expecting something more wild. It’s very much a calm, emotionally driven journey between these siblings and I think we need more games like this. It very much is a work of art in terms of the story, and the absolutely gorgeous aesthetic that DONTNOD has been polishing over a number of games.
I certainly enjoyed this, at the same time I did find some moments of it rather boring and I feel the pacing of it had a lot to do with that aspect. It’s definitely interesting, and I think it’s worth diving into as the two characters were quite interesting to see in action. That was true regardless of which character you were seeing the perspective of over the course of the episodes.
Read our Life is Strange Review
View our Life is Strange Hub
Tell Me Why Review on Xbox One X
Review Code Provided by Microsoft