Sam Higgs is a troubled man. When his best friend Nick dies in a mysterious car crash, he returns to his broken hometown of Basswood dragging every piece of his baggage behind him. There’s a crushing break up, a goddaughter in need of guidance and a lonely American town slowly descending into ruin.
This is Twin Mirror. It begins with Sam’s long journey back to Basswood. The opening feels very Twin Peaks: Sam drives through wooded country lanes, stops for a passing tram, breathes in the frosty mountain air.
It’s very mysterious, buoyed by a string-heavy soundtrack and Basswood’s rustic, abandoned look. It was formerly a mining town, but has since been left to rot.
When Sam stops to ascend a rocky staircase in the town’s mountains, we can see how faded and broken the town’s become.
Sam arrives in Basswood to attend a friend’s funeral but he stops for a moment to visit a memorable location from his past — a spyglass triggering a hideous memory from long ago. From here, the game opens Sam’s Mind Palace for the first time.
The Mind Palace is Sam’s personal astral plane, first glimpsed in early trailers for the game.
As a former investigative journalist, Sam has a unique way of looking at the world and making connections. This manifests in the mirror-like Mind Palace where various snippets of Sam’s memory float past on gondolas made from shards of glass.
It’s a beautiful location and immediately gives Twin Mirror an intriguing hook. While the preview didn’t dwell on this location, it’s set to be a major focus of the game’s story with exploration opening up new memories and stories.
Sam’s mind is interesting place and you’ll need to master his various quirks and abilities to progress further in the game.
In the opening chapter, Sam’s first memory details a very messy rejection from his girlfriend, Anna. After the proposal goes wrong, Sam’s life in Basswood ends. He leaves, abandoning his friends with no warning. It’s the start of Sam’s sorry tale, playing out further when Sam misses the funeral he returned home to attend.
Importantly, the game notes entering the Mind Palace will make Sam lose time. While he’ll gain access to valuable memories which can be used to solve mysteries later on, players will miss important events if they dwell in the Palace too long. It’s a neat balancing act you’ll need to manage.
After escaping from the cloud of glassy memories, Sam makes his way to the town hidden in a valley below. Nick’s wake takes place outside a neon bar and it’s there he meets Joan, Nick’s daughter (and Sam’s god daughter).
This is where the game gets more intimate, adopting the same kind of choice-based dialogue options as past DONTNOD titles like Life is Strange. Exploration appears to play more of a key part in Twin Mirror‘s narrative, but these moments are still broken up by smaller, more intimate scenes.
Decisions are core to Twin Mirror‘s story, and they play out in a variety of ways. There’s smaller choices like answering texts or having conversations — but there’s also larger choices designed to split narrative down the middle. These are guided by a presence known as The Double.
The Double is Sam’s alter ego. It’s a mirror image only Sam can see and it appears during vital choices. As Sam’s inner turmoil increases, arguments between Sam and his Double also heighten. Both argue for one choice or the other, giving players an opportunity to investigate the potential consequences.
My preview session ended before Sam’s final choice in his conversation with Joan. But Twin Mirror left enough of an impression to leave me curious and excited for more.
Twin Mirror looks packed with a variety of interesting mechanics, including the gorgeous-looking Mind Palace arena. With an intriguing premise and a hefty dose of mystery, this is one to watch out for in the coming months.
Twin Mirror releases on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime this year.