Review: Tell me Why
From the creators of Life is Strange, DONTNOD, there's now Tell me Why. An adventure game where you determine the reactions and actions of the characters. This narrative adventure game takes you on an intense adventure in search of the truth. Our review has been written with as few spoilers as possible, which is important for such an exciting game!
The story of Tell Me Why revolves around the two protagonists Tyler and Alyson. Twins who see each other again after ten years apart. Tyler and Alyson had a rough childhood. They grew up together in a small Alaskan town with their single mother. The twins create their own fantasy world in which they play two goblins. In this way they make their own world a little nicer and even their mother participates in it. But things slowly get worse for their mother. She seems stressed, unhappy and easily angered. Tyler, born as a girl, finds out he's not in the right body. Mary-Ann, their mother, finds this very difficult. One evening, which despite their mother's mood swings, was very cozy, Tyler had his sister cut his hair. He proudly wants to show it to his mother,what happens next can only be described as a big drama but that night Tyler and Alyson are orphaned.
After ten years, Tyler and Alyson meet again. Tyler has lived, worked and studied in a children's shelter for all these years. All this time they have not seen each other, it is time to sell the family home. The two cautiously get to know each other again as they clear out and redecorate the house they used to live in. Many bad and also some good memories come to the fore. They also learn something special about themselves, namely that they have an inner voice that can speak to the other. They used to be able to converse telepathically with each other, but apparently this band still works. They can also relive memories. Slowly a great mystery unravels as to why the drama of that evening unfolded. What was going on with Mary-Ann? Why was the whole family in danger?
It's up to you, the player, to uncover the mystery of Tell Me Why through the eyes of Alyson and Tyler. By choosing different dialogue options and making choices you influence the course of the story. Also on relationships you have with your brother or sister, or others in the area. Little by little it gets more and more exciting… Tell me Why is it made with realistic moments that also occur in real life. DONTNOD and Xbox Game Studios have done a lot of research on topics such as youth mental health and genders. This way the player can also learn and discover a lot in the game and it gives even more depth. Also with a view on culture, this game can connect well with people and that people can (learn to) move in it.
DONTNOD's earlier game, Life is Strange, was known for its cartoon/semi-realistic look. With Tell me Why, the makers have kept it very realistic. The environment, Alaska is beautiful. The beautiful snowy mountains mean that there are enough beautiful scenes in the game. With the right music behind the scenes, the game feels very complete. When we listen to the voice acting, it also feels good. When a piece is exciting, the whole picture is right, the music fits, the voices are full of emotion and the environment is right. This actually applies to all scenarios.
I must admit that graphically it is not the most beautiful game. I got to play it on PC and on good graphics, but I missed the facial expressions in the characters. Where the music, environment and voices are right, I miss the feelings of the characters. Eyes are often neutral and movements are regularly somewhat wooden. I noticed that this sometimes took me out of the story and it seemed a bit uncomfortable.
I really like the mental aspect of the game. It is also set up very realistically, for example around Tyler. As a transgender man, he returns to a small village that previously only knew him as a girl. The kind of comments and prejudices he gets all over him shows what it can do to someone mentally. I found this very strong in the game and also very educational.
The butterfly effect of the game is always fun to play with. This also means that the game has the potential to be played more often, because what options can you discover more? It is always exciting when you have made a choice to see that loading icon, because how will this turn out? How will this help or hinder my relationship with my sister or brother. Or maybe I didn't choose the right one… The options I could always choose were varied. You also sometimes had the choice to even start a new conversation with your inner voice so that you had to make more and more choices.
I thought the story got off to a slow start. I noticed that in the beginning I often wandered with my concentration and then grabbed my phone to scroll through my social media. The conversations in the beginning are long and the silences sometimes even longer. This makes for a lot of empty time in the game where you couldn't always do something. Or that the options were limited and that I had quickly done everything and then I still had to wait for something. Later on in the game it gets more exciting and the story gets going, then it becomes easier to keep my attention and let me get caught up in the story. It's obviously not a fast-paced game, and it really shouldn't be. But it was just a little too slow for my taste.
The graphics also bothered me from time to time. Not the environment, because that's all beautiful, but as described before, that of the characters. Stiff movements, accidentally standing in the way of the NPC causing him to spin thirteen circles before passing me or the emotionless eyes. The latter even more so, if something was very sad, or just very happy, I saw those eyes and took that away with a bit of ambiance. And that while the voice acting was really good!
Tell me Why it is an interesting and good game. If you plow through the first part, the game really becomes more fun and exciting. Then, as a player, I'm actually captivated to solve the latest piece of mystery and get closer to the core. With educational aspects and interesting storylines, it makes it a nice game to play. I give the game 7.5 points.
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