State of Mind – Preview

Set in a gritty, technologically ravaged Berlin some thirty years from now, Daedalic Entertainment’s State of Mind is set to deliver a cerebral, dystopian yarn deeply entrenched in themes of transhumanism, a world where tech is worming itself deeper and deeper under our skin and into our lives; food isn’t cooked it’s “assembled”, coffee is freshly 3D printed. You play as Richard Nolan, a journalist whose life is crumbling before his eyes, surviving a crash only to find his marriage in tatters, his wife and son nowhere to be found. An amnesiac bound to his flat with a service bot he morally abhors, slowly he pieces together his memories whilst working against a watchful world set against him.

The world is dirty and dour, dark and on the brink of collapse. Crime is at an all time high, natural resources scarce and dwindling, wars are pushing the populace from their polluted realities into fabricated lives, scanning themselves into a virtual utopia, simply named “City 5”. Between Nolan’s hazy memory and violent outbursts at humble housebot Simon, the game shifts to another man, Adam Newman. Well groomed, his apartment lighter and spacious, his son present, his wife loving. Adam’s had a very similar accident, waking up to take his child to a clinic, but not before a wholesome family breakfast and a playful hunt for a pet’s remote control. He seems the ideal father, something omnipresent AI Artemis keeps reminding him as you wander through eerily idyllic streets populated by other immaculate individuals, where jewelry can be fabricated for a spouse on a whim.

Early on, UI is described as a character’s AR vision, alerting players to points of interest and interactivity. As a diegetic system, one that exists in the world of the story, adverts compel Richard to throw books and toy blocks away, redundant analogue artifacts that can be replaced by products on the Cloud. There’s a subtle yet sinister tone to almost all in-game descriptions, pulling together a toothsome sense of hopelessness in a city saturated by technology.

Fragmented and confused, Nolan’s *ahem* state of mind is captured by the game’s striking low-poly aesthetic, one that seems to add to the sense of uncanny, disjointedness initially present in the game’s first few hours. Characters are detailed yet angular, abstracted, yet interestingly many small intractable asides are present, little things to add weight and reality to the experience like brewing coffee, offering a homeless man food, giving said fresh coffee to a coworker. State of Mind’s in-game, fractured reality may be questionable, but the life of Nolan carries a believable weight. Between deciphering the nature of Adam and solving AR puzzles as Richard, the narrative seems to run deep with plenty of burrows and strands that construct an engaging and believably grim future.

Bound to follow similar themes to the similarly transhumanist, highly rated horror title Soma, State of Mind launches some time this year.

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