Tell Me Why - Review of Dontnod's new work

If there's one thing I love about the development studio Dontnod Enteratainment is their versatility: we're talking about the minds behind projects like Remember Me, Vampyr and the most noble Life is Strange. Even if the gameplay changes from time to time (although gradually it seems that the path of the studio remains more and more that of graphic adventures), what shines for each of these works is the plot, a plot built as a work of art always with a meaning. well outlined. Tell Me Why no less: we already expected it as a story to be lived with the heart and the product did not hold back. On the other hand, however, the game is also a resumption of the stylistic features seen in Life is Strange, it certainly offers something different but that basically falls a bit in the same dynamics: just this, which for many fans of the series could prove to be an advantage. , it was a kind of deterrent from wanting to appreciate it well.

The world this time revolves around two twins, Alyson and Tyler, who will have to deal with the past (them and their family), with the citizens of a remote country in Alaska and, above all, with the consequences of transition from female to male that Tyler himself experienced.

The right approach

As we have said, the playful soul of Tell Me Why is much closer to Life is Strange than to the other Dontnod games: well-defined but fairly basic graphics serve as a scenario for a story that has a lot to tell. As always, this means on the one hand a well-defined style, on the other a well-set limit: there is in fact no possibility of being able to immerse yourself in realistic locations or meticulous details, but the whole is instead more delivered as a sort of animation. If this can make the experience bitter, rest assured, as always the software house has managed to exploit this style in a directorial spectacular way, especially as regards the views, places where one of the twins can stop to admire fantastic landscape photographs. covered with snow, as well as reflecting.

We defined this style as limiting for a reason: as is often the case in this genre of titles, many parts of the game are exquisitely finished, but others are left out and create little ugly things that are a bit annoying. It is not something that leads to a negative experience, in fact it does not even affect that much, but the details could certainly be improved. Finally, the “classic” bugs known in Dontnod's works return, passing from the overlapping of some dialogues to really badly managed shots.

On the other hand, those that immediately enter the hearts of the players are the puzzles: although in the previous works they were not preponderant (indeed almost absent), this type of games lends itself very well to the aforementioned solutions, especially when they require more than a simple mathematical calculation. Unfortunately, a larger amount would have done the genre further justice, but finding these as a challenge already raises the level of difficulty, not so much for the simple dichotomy between success and failure, but just to get us set in motion. For the rest, the game focuses heavily on the plot, on the choices you will make and how you will manage everything: the town where the game is set is very isolated, and a “modern” topic like Tyler's one certainly generates a lot of chatter. The positive thing is that Dontnod, however, managed to manage everything without falling into clichés or useless paternalisms, but rather proposes and exposes a true story, you feel it right away. As always, the supernatural approach cannot be missing, although here it is very different from Life is Strange. In fact, Alyson and Tyler can mentally exchange thoughts, as well as relive some of their memories once they have visited the places where these occurred: it is really interesting to see how interpretation and memory play an important role.

Close to the abyss

The story of Tell Me Why is a fragment of common life, proposed in a truly unique way: the temptations that the plot will have proposed to the writers to fall into futile clichés are so many, but in a masterly way Dontnod avoided obstacles by making every single character real, real. Unfortunately, this genre of games works much better towards the thriller connotation, and in the first few hours the title does not go into gear well. It is also not approachable if you want something immediate: Tell Me Why requires calm, reading every single writing and listening to every line of dialogue, which are dubbed in English but with Spanish subtitles. Calm will be the weapon that will allow you to discover every single detail of all the characters in the game, impeccably characterized. Unfortunately, as often happens in titles that are in limbo between a triple A and a low-budget game, we go from screaming interpretations (like the protagonists) to not very expressive faces, obviously traveling even in catastrophic moments from a technical point of view. , but sublime in their artistic side. Unfortunately, all this often requires limits imposed on the player, and Tell Me Why is the clear proof of this: removed the aforementioned riddles, the rest is a simple choice of dialogue, take the path we think is right and see where it leads.

We are then very far from other exponents, direct evolutions of the old genre of graphic adventures: if indeed Quantic Dreams has tried to implement Quick Time Events and moments of tension due to choices with multiple consequences, or Telltale has inserted excited phases that can lead to a "forced" story conclusion, here, with Tell Me Why, it looks like the developers want you to get to the end of the game, which is sometimes a bit tedious experience. We are obviously talking about a known "evil", something that you will have to endure to experience a story made of heart, without exploitation of any kind and with an attitude that is as always original, unique.

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