Tell Me Why (PC / XBO)
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Developer - DONTNOD Entertainment
Platforms - Windows 10, Xbox One, Game Pass
Episode 1: August 27th, 2020
Episode 2: September 3rd, 2020
Episode 3: September 10th, 2020
Tell Me Why is the latest narrative adventure from DONTNOD Entertainment, the studio behind the beloved franchise Life is Strange. In this intimate mystery, reunited twins Tyler and Alyson Ronan use their special bond to unravel the memories of their loving but troubled childhood.
Set in the fictional town of Delos Crossing, Alaska, Tell Me Why features a cast of intriguing, true-to-life characters and mature themes. As you interact with memories of the past, you will make choices that determine the strength of the unique bond that Tyler and Alyson share—and shape the future course of the twins’ lives.
Tell Me Why unfolds across three chapters that will release on August 27, September 3, and September 10, 2020. All chapters will be available on Xbox Game Pass and will also be available for purchase on Xbox One, Windows PC and Steam. Pre-order on the Windows Store and Steam starting July 23, 2020.
Tell Me Why is a single-player game with an anticipated rating of Mature (17+) and PEGI-16. You will need an internet connection to download and play the game.
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I haven't been following the puck on DONTNOD's "Tell Me Why" but as the reviews and reports started pouring in today, I can't help but be intrigued. If I haven't said it enough times, "Life Is Strange" and to a lesser extent its prequel "Before The Storm" are up there as some of my favourite games of all time for a multitude of reasons.
From what I can tell, TMW is going to be similar to LiS in that the game is a3D adventure game, it'll tell a challenging story, and it'll release episodically. In this case, we won't have to hold our breath all year because all (3) episodes will be out before mid-September.
I don't get the vibe that TMW is tonally aiming for the teenage melodrama of LiS series. I'm coming off a pretty disappointing experience in 2018-2019's Life Is Strange 2, and I can't prove it, but I think DONTNOD were flying by the seat of their pants as they developed that game. LiS 2 received positive to mixed reviews from critics and fans and you could really feel some of the independent studio budgetary limitations in that one whereas TMW seems to be getting a big budget overhaul from Xbox Game Studios. I only bring it up because I think TMW got more support versus their earlier titles.
Riley, the Editor At Large for Kotaku just did a piece on his experience with Tell Me Why and how it affected him. I think if there is anything to catch you up to speed with the game, it's this pretty touching article right here.
I haven't started this game yet, but I might finally bite on Xbox Game Pass and download it next week. $1 for this game among others feels like a steal.
DMCMaster last edited by
After trying to replay Life is Strange (got about halfway thru episode 3) I had to start questioning just how it got so popular and how people could look pass it's pretty big flaws (namely Max being a massive idiot, and Chole being the worst "best friend " imaginable)
That said I will say I'm at least curious about Tell Me Why when it eventually finishes.
I mean, I'm not going to dispute the tragic flaws or any of the points you bring up because you're totally correct, but I can at least tell you why I think the game is so popular - at least based on my personal feelings.
Life Is Strange has both superb writing and borderline ridiculous dialogue or story moments all within the same scene let alone chapter. But where it wins me over is when it perfectly executes these wholesome family values sitcom-esque moments. You know when you watch an episode of Fresh Prince or screen a teen drama film like Varsity Blues, and it bombards you with scene after scene of cheesy melodrama that only kids can relate to? Then out of nowhere one or two lines of dialogue completely hit you in the feels, and despite everything else, you end up emotionally impacted one way or another.
I don't know if that description makes any sense, but that is kinda why I love LiS. Max, to me, is a blank slate. I don't actually like her all that much nor do I care about her ability to piece together this murder mystery, but I love playing as her, getting to take in the quaint Pacific town, and unravel this cheesy mystery every step of the way.
Now per LiS 2, I think it began to take itself a bit too seriously. I respect the effort to tell a truly complicated story about complicated and believable characters, but it lost me without the extra cheese. I think unbelievability helped that franchise (i.e. Chole being soooooo shitty, or the bullies being sooooooo mean) and LiS2 went for poigent realism and might've missed the mark.
Now Tell Me Why seems to be more in-line with LiS2 than 1, so I'm skeptical, but I have to respect the effort to tell challenging stories. Not to mention that they also dignified Indigenous people by virtue of approaching them before making and selling art that depicts their land, city, culture. Not too many writers, directors, and creators even make an attempt at these kinds of things. I think what I'm most excited about is playing a video game that shows reality as it is. All other media has done a good job of that and it's about time games do too.
Not sure if anybody has started playing it yet. Huber did some recent impressions on Frame Trap, which I'll admit are pretty vague in describing the game. I just finished Chapter 1 and I can safely say I got sucked into it like I have in the first chapter of every Don't Nod game.
It's like this small town murder mystery but it isn't treated like one which is actually a pretty great spin for the story. You play as twins and you both acknowledge something fishy surrounds the way your mother was acting before her demise. You have this supernatural mental connection between one another and you can recollect memories in places that really wring out your emotions, like an old hiding spot you'd play in as kids. Here's an example below:
There is a pseudo-twist here in that your memories might not be entirely reliable. For example, as you extract info from the denizens in town, you are challenged with two differing recollection of the same event, and it seems like it might temper your relationship with your sibling depending on which memory you choose.
It's cool because there is this unspoken of tension where the siblings Tyler and Alyson might be unreliable narrators or something, but I'm not far enough to prove that theory yet.
I'd like to give a nod to the art direction. This is their best work so far. Alyson is an especially great character model who fits perfectly into small town Alaska. Same goes for Tyler, but I just think Alyson is a really great looking character. I just believe the both of them so much more than other characters from LiS. Generally speaking, these are some of my favourite character designs in a while.
And Don't Nod seems to always have these little toys, stuffed animals, and other little mini-characters that are so great. Here is "Trout King" (I think):
But they really did some awesome work with the environments themselves. Life Is Strange had this kinda cool but VERY low budget looking painterly art style. Life Is Strange Before The Storm has the ugly cheap plastic looking character models. LiS 2 has something between the two. Well, TMW just makes realistic looking characters and environments but then the backdrops have this painterly look to them. So detail is high res in the foreground and very artistic in the back. It work sooooo well for this Alaskan small town surrounded by trees and mountains. It's the first story-driven indie game I've played that looks and feels high budget while also having that indie game flare to it. It's really nice.
I thought I took a screengrab but I must've missed an example of that. I'll upload it later.
Ozymandsss last edited by
I have a few hours in to episode 1 and have to get back to it. Seems compelling so far. I notice they have another one on the horizon, Twin Mirror, I believe? I think its out next month. Presumably someone is also working on LiS3 as well. I hope Dont Nod doesn't overextend themselves the way Telltale did.
I take it that not too many people have played or completed this. I just finished it last night.
I really enjoyed it. It's 3 episodes at 2-3 hours apiece and I think it was starting to wear out its welcome a tiny bit near the end so the length is about right for these kinds of games. I definitely enjoyed it way more than LiS2 and it brought back those cozy, at home, small town vibe from LiS 1 and LiS BTS. In fact, as the story goes on, the ideas of keeping bonds through thick and thin, keeping home close to your heart, and spreading fond memories are central themes.
Like any Dontnod game, there is some stilted storytelling and conflict that seems so one sided. In this case, Alison has a hard time coping with her past. I had a hard time connecting with that because her brother seems so levelheaded by comparison. So some of her internal conflict was a bit beyond me.
This game has a great carrot at the end of the stick - what happened to your mom? The resolutions are solid and it's nice that player choice affects the final outcomes, but I wasn't necessarily gripped by the twists, turns, and revelations throughout.
A solid game, I recommend it, but it isn't going to be super impactful in the grand scheme of things.
I just want to add that after Chapter 1, I thought there might be a gameplay mechanic where your decision on whose memory to believe affects your relationship with your sibling. Turns out it DOES. But I didn't even know until I hit the Outcomes screen in Chapter 3 and I was among the other 89% of people who kept a strong bond between the siblings soooooooo I have NO CLUE how somebody could even manage to destroy that bond because I did some very hot headed stuff throughout and still kept the bond in-tact.