French sport studio Dontnod loves the supernatural. The workforce’s breakout hit was the original Life is Strange, which starred a teenage woman who had the power to rewind time. The sequel featured a younger boy with telekinetic powers, and in 2018, the studio dabbled in roleplaying video games with Vampyr, which put gamers within the function of a bloodthirsty denizen of the night time. However round 2016, the workforce determined they needed to create one thing somewhat extra grounded.
They finally landed on the concept for Twin Mirror, an journey sport a few former investigative journalist named Sam who ventures again to his hometown following the demise of his greatest buddy. Naturally, he will get wrapped up in a a lot greater thriller involving your entire city. Sam does have some video game-esque talents — together with a “thoughts palace” for piecing collectively clues and fixing mysteries — however there are not any superpowers or mythological creatures.
“You need folks to have the ability to perceive the thriller,” sport director Florian Desforges says of the choice to eschew the supernatural. “Sure, there are some supernatural parts in how we show Sam’s distinctive thoughts, however the story itself, the logic of what’s taking place, the motivation of the characters, all of that is rooted in actuality.”
Whereas the workforce knew from the start that they needed a grounded story, it took time to determine what that story can be. The problem, in keeping with Desforges, was that simply because a narrative is fascinating, that doesn’t imply it presents fascinating methods to work together with it. What made Sam and his quest to uncover the secrets and techniques of his hometown compelling, says Desforges, is that it struck a stability between these two components. The workforce beloved the character and thriller, however they had been additionally enthusiastic about creating methods for gamers to inhabit Sam’s investigative thoughts. “We had been fairly satisfied we discovered the right combination between these two features,” Desforges says.
Very like Life is Unusual, Twin Mirror performs out as a third-person journey sport, one the place gamers work together with the world but additionally make crucial decisions that may affect how the story performs out. A key distinction is tone. As a result of it’s billed as a psychological thriller, the workforce at Dontnod needed to make sure that Twin Mirror felt tense. Initially, the plan was to launch Twin Mirror as a collection of episodes, very similar to Life is Unusual.
Nonetheless, round 2018, the workforce did some main transforming of the sport primarily based on playtesting, which included restructuring it right into a single, non-episodic expertise and pushing again the discharge date. That they had the entire proper parts, however issues simply weren’t gelling. “Making an attempt to separate it into items, typically it was breaking down the rhythm,” says Dontnod’s head of publishing Xavier Spinat. The method concerned some in depth rewrites of the story to make it circulation as a seamless complete, in addition to restructuring the logic of among the decisions.
Twin Mirror takes place in a small city in West Virginia, which is turning into one thing of a theme for Dontnod. The French builders appear notably enamored with Americana; the primary Life is Unusual happened within the picturesque Arcadia Bay, a fictional city in Oregon, whereas its sequel was a determined highway journey that spanned from Washington to Mexico. The upcoming Tell Me Why, in the meantime, is ready in Alaska. “As a thriller, we had been in search of one thing with some character,” Spinat says of the West Virginia setting. “We additionally needed a spot that wasn’t an enormous metropolis.”
The brand new sport is slated to launch later this yr, and it’s coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC (it’ll be an Epic Sport Retailer unique for one yr). Twin Mirror has been in growth for a number of years, and, as is the case with most video games for the time being, that course of has slowed lately as a result of ongoing pandemic. Dontnod’s manufacturing is a very worldwide one; it’s a French studio working with a Japanese writer that has testers in Romania, movement seize work executed in Germany, actors in Poland, and voice recordings executed within the US. Managing all of that has been difficult, however the workforce says manufacturing remains to be going sturdy.
“We now have nonetheless managed to maneuver ahead,” says Spinat, “however far more slowly than we want.”