Tell Me Why is an episodic adventure game developed by DontNod Entertainment. It was published by Microsoft Game Studios and released for PC and Xbox One in August 2020.
*This review contains minor spoilers to the plot of the game. Be warned!
The Ronan twins live in a small community known as Delos Crossing in rural Alaska. A terrible incident occurred when they were children that left their mother dead, and one of the twins in a Juvenile Detention Center. Fast forward 10 years later, Tyler is out of juvie, greeted by his sister Alyson, and they are finally ready to move on with their life.
This is where the game immediately had me scratching my head. The first big point in the story is about the twins clearing out their old family home. I immediately thought to myself “why wait 10 years for this, when you could’ve got a few day passes and had this done years ago!?”. But this didn’t take away from the rest of the story, it just felt like a silly way to lay the groundwork for the story that was to come. Luckily it picked up from there, until the end of the game, but we’ll get to that eventually.
The big thing this game hung its hat on is that it was the first AAA game to feature a transgender protagonist. So I got very curious how they were going to handle the whole topic. If you didn’t know about the topics the game covered, you wouldn’t even know that the game has a transgender character. It works so well at just making them a person. It’s not until shortly after in the game that I found out which of the protagonists it was, between Tyler and Alyson, but at the end of the day, it just worked so well, and didn’t feel shoehorned in. I absolutely loved it. I was a bit concerned about the dialogue in the game, mostly because the last few episodic games from Dontnod, often have some questionable dialogue, and interactions that made me cringe. But this feels very mature in everything it does, dialogue included.
The game starts to take some twists and turns in the later episodes. What started off as the twins trying to bury the past and move on with their lives, turned into a swirling mass of mysteries that they wanted to uncover. Was their mother truly the woman they thought she was? Was the town as tight knit as they were led to believe as children? Was the tragic event that happened just a whole misunderstanding? Throughout the game I was so excited to learn more about their mother and the bigger mysteries around everything, including the town.
The game doesn’t have much gameplay to it. What little there is, is mostly just walking around and interacting with the environment in certain ways. In episode two for example, you search through files at a police station to try to find specific information. Or in episode three, you solve puzzles in an attic using a book that the characters wrote with their mother. The game really helped bring back the adventures I had as a child, when imagination was the main driving force for finding things to do.
The supporting cast of the game is just as well written as the main two characters. Between being absolutely loveable, like Michael and Officer Wilson, they were easy to be sceptical of because they were clearly holding deep seeded secrets. Not to say they were easy to hate, but they just weren’t as likable.
The game kept me going the whole time out of sheer excitement and wonder about what’s behind the next corner, that when the game built to its climax, I was expecting it to blow me away. But in reality, it really let me down. There was one BIG plot point at the end of the game, that you should’ve had the ability to determine the outcome. But the game just set out a path for itself with that and it infuriated me. It also didn’t do a great job of answering so many of the questions that it built up, then I feel like it didn’t do justice to one of the main characters. Heck it didn’t even build on a relationship that I was excited about! I was left wondering what happened with everything. Especially my boy Michael. He deserves justice!
- Well Written Characters
- Fantastic Story
- So Many Mysteries And Branching Story Paths
- Weird Story Setup
- Disappointing Ending
This game really blew me away with how it handled all of its themes with such maturity. The characters were fantastic, the mysteries were abundant, and it kept pulling me back in for more. The only disappointment was the ending but the rest of the game made up for it at least. I can’t wait to see more from Dontnod and I hope one day we see a sequel to this.