(Reviewed on Xbox One by Games of DAYNE)
With the twins again separated, a deep look within themselves and all that they’ve been through may be the only way for them to come together and accept their past, present and future.
Tell Me Why‘s third and final chapter, “Inheritance“, has the difficult task of wrapping up the emotionally charged narrative that has been building. Following the fallout of the twins at the conclusion of “Family Secrets“, the strength of their rekindled bond is put to the ultimate test. Facing challenges with closure, acceptance and forgiveness to name just a few, Tyler and Alyson have a lot of growing to do within this 2-3 hour affair. DONTNOD once again deliver a story that is driven by heart.
After a pair of chapters that leaned more heavily into Tyler, Alyson finally receives some of the much needed spotlight to flesh her out with the same depth as has been afforded to her brother. Alsyon’s growth unsurprisingly highlights the additional strength she has through her relationship with a Tyler. Their bond is far more than the ability to communicate telepathically or to see visualisations of their childhood memories. Their bond is the strength they have when they are close and work in unison. This depth to Alyson was sorely needed and it plays out without compromising Tyler.
As with previous outings, Tell Me Why again tasks the player with exploring and interacting within a handful of environments. The puzzle solving returns and highlights the effectiveness of combining the storytelling elements from the Book of Goblins with the solutions to the puzzles. The Book of Goblins has consistently served as a fun illustrated/animated representation of their twins rife with imagination. It’s strength though lies in its direct correlation to the gameplay and the present day narrative.
All of the decisions that have paved the way for minor or major narrative direction changes pay off in a handful of ways in this finale. While some may bear little impact on the over-arching story, there are some key decisions that heavily influence which ending will be received. The replayability of these decision driven games extend to witnessing all possible outcomes and Tell Me Why is well worth revisiting to see how things can alternatively play out.
The conclusion to this trilogy of drama and self-discovery is going to surprise many with it’s grounded yet logical approach. With the tragedy fully understood, the player is no different to the twins in needing a moment to let it sink in and properly process what it all actually means. It’s powerful and feels more appropriate than an encounter with a big bad of sorts. The villain of Tell Me Why isn’t a person, it’s not even the memory of their mother. The true villain is their past and the inescapable grip it has had over the twins for a decade. Moving on and healing is the only way to defeat this type of villain and DONTNOD have emphatically delivered this message with its masterful closing moments.
The voice acting is as emotional as ever for this closing act to the trilogy and each character feels genuine and authentic. The score is beautiful and serves to powerfully enhance the most emotional of moments.
The visual inconsistencies are again present, offering moments of stunning visual beauty in some of the environmental design while the moment to moment gameplay areas and assets suffer. The characters again feel rather stiff and wooden but for the most part the emotion of the scene makes this easier to overlook.
Overcoming pacing issues and an initial imbalance between Tyler and Alyson’s emotional depth are worth it in the end. The spiritual and emotional journey that we have experienced alongside the twins is powerful and thought provoking. The added dimension of Tyler becoming the man he is today compared to the little girl he was as a child brings a depth that changes the narrative in a way that might not work if not for his transition. Tell Me Why delicately handles this topic in a way that brings awareness to the unique challenges Tyler has faced and will continue to face throughout his life. There’s no agenda, no ulterior motive, just a genuine exploration of an individual empowered by his own sense of self-identity.
Tyler and Alyson have been through a lot. From the tragic events that led to their separation, the personal growth and challenges they faced throughout their ten years apart and the handful of days reunited at their childhood home in Delos Crossing, they have been cursed with pain and regret. By uncovering the true nature of the series of events that led to the loss of their mother, the twins can finally move on. How exactly they do that however is in your hands.
+ Emotionally resonating conclusion
+ Alyson finally gets some depth and attention
+ The dimension brought to the bond of the twins
+ The Book of Goblins use in puzzle solving
– Inconsistent visuals and animations
Games of DAYNE Rating
Developed by: DONTNOD
Published by: Xbox Game Studios
Release Date: September 10 2020
Platforms: Xbox One and PC
All three chapters of Tell Me Why are available on Xbox Game Pass.