The advancement of technology is often seen as a positive thing. Information is always at our fingertips, physical tasks have been made easier, and people can stay connected in ways that weren't possible just years ago. However, in the world created by Daedalic Entertainment in their latest adventure title, State of Mind
, technology has gotten out of hand. In the year 2048, humanity is being pushed to the brink. The demand for natural resources far outweighs the supply, pollution in the air and water causes illness, crime rates are increasing, and war is only just around the corner. Technology is supposed to be humanity's salvation as drones and robots take over menial jobs, and everything is interconnected, but this comes with the downside that cameras and surveillance are never too far away.
We're in Berlin, home to Richard Nolan. Over the next 60 seconds, we watch scenes of chaos as he's caught up in a mysterious explosion at an unknown location. We see flashbacks of his life, snapshots of his career as a journalist and his family life, before he collapses in the street. We join him again as he wakes up in hospital, confused and suffering the after effects of a head injury. The doctor puts him through basic cognitive tests under the disguise of acclimatising players to the game's controls, before asking questions about his past. Here it becomes obvious that players need to pay attention to their surroundings right from the get go, because many of the answers could be found in the game's opening moments.
Seemingly well enough to return home, Richard is escorted out of the building and returns home to his apartment. Upon waking up later that evening, he finds his wife and son aren't home. In their place is a humanoid robot home assistant, and for a man who opposes the advancement of technology, this is the ultimate irritation. The next course of action isn't immediately obvious — Daedalic wishes for players to guide their own progress and offers minimal handholding. Of course, this means the best thing to do is to explore the apartment.
Green triangles mark objects of interest. Objects with hollow triangles can only be examined, whereas those with filled triangles also have an accompanying action, be it a cut scene that yields more clues, or a meaningless distraction. There are also mini-games that players can choose to ignore or use to keep themselves amused for a while, such as the piano in the apartment. You can use it to compose symphonies, or you can follow my example and hit random keys to make an obnoxious noise before deciding it might be best to move on. Some actions will also have later consequences. While writing an article for his editor, Richard can take a sarcastic approach or a more direct approach. If he has a drink while doing it, his options change to sarcastic or ironic. The published article may please his editor or it might not; either way, your interactions with the editor later on in the game will likely be affected by this.
It soon becomes clear that not everything is as it first seemed. Career wise, Richard was seemingly on the verge of a big scoop that would have exposed a much larger conspiracy. More importantly, though, his wife is not where she's supposed to be. His relationship has been on the rocks for a while and there are hints that Richard might be having an affair. While he professes to love his exceptionally gifted son, their relationship is also troubled. Has his wife finally left him, which is the opinion of his despised father-in-law, or has she been caught up in the aforementioned technological conspiracy? Either way, for now her location remains a mystery.
Richard is just one of several playable characters throughout the game. We next join a man called Adam, whose life seems incredibly similar to that of Richard. His apartment has the same layout, his wife is not at home, and he is also recovering from the aftermath of an accident, yet there are also several notable differences. His family life is far more amicable; his wife is expected home later that evening and there's little doubt that she will reappear when she should. Meanwhile, his gifted son is already present, and Adam needs to take him to his latest hospital appointment. Most notably, despite the similar technology, there's a feeling that Adam belongs to an alternate dimension.
How Adam's reality fits into Richard's story is not clear. The global conspiracy that threatens humanity's very existence also puts Richard's problems into perspective. Daedalic promises a multi-layered story that combines a harsh dystopian reality and a more ideal digital utopia. Is that utopia the answer to the current crisis, where humans aren't affected by conflict or material needs? Will the advancing technology be a help, a hindrance, or even a threat?
Players will have many mysteries to solve during a storyline that is supposed to take roughly 20 hours to complete. You'll get to unravel those mysteries for yourself when the title arrives later this year. You can pre-order the title with a 10% discount from here