Just around a month ago, DONTNOD Entertainment (Remember Me, Life is Strange) released the third and last chapter of its new narrative adventure Tell Me Why.
The story revolves around the Ronan twins, Alyson and Tyler, as they go back to their childhood’s house to fix it before a major sell.
Of course, as the memories of their tough infancy unravel in front of them, they realise something strange is happening: if Max Clawfield had the power to rewind time, these siblings can connect their minds and turn memories alive.
The main event that impacts the protagonists’ narrative arcs is the death of their mother Mary-Ann, which, for many reasons that I will not spoil you, brought the twins to be separated for ten years.
With breath-taking environments, tricky puzzles and intense backstories, the player has the chance to empathize with the two protagonists, but also with the entire cohort of second characters. They are not only well-defined, but they are also carrying around their own traumas.
One of the most interesting features brought by this game is, indeed, finding out about their motives and their secrets, and how they all connect to the heart-breaking murder of Mary-Ann Ronan.
On numerous magazines and forums, many players and writers are comparing this adventure to Life is Strange because of the realistic environments, the dialogue’s style, and the “superpowers” involved. But, if the predecessor has a more entertaining and fast-paced approach, Tell Me Why takes a slightly different one: it’s not about the variety or the “cool, angst teenagers” here.
The overall feeling of Tell Me Why is that we’re not facing just a game or an interesting story, but a box of messages. As you can see when you start playing, there’s a warning sign which assures that the development team kept in touch with LGBTQAI+ and Mental Health Awareness associations to be confident about what to say and, of course, how to say it.
The Ronan twins’ chronicles are able to uncover various issues that a Millennial has to face nowadays, as we can see, for example, from Alyson’s fear of the future. This is all done with great respect and well-thought narrative strategies.
DONTNOD was able to create once again a game that resonates with the problems of a 21st Century human being. By treating topics as anxiety and grief with an astonishing delicacy and an attention to details, this French studio – who has lately opened a new head-quarter in Montreal – is creating a proper legacy. Its projects have a certain touch which mixes incredibly intricate plots and a realistic design, creating videogames that are closer to an interactive movie more than to a traditional videoludic work.
Sure, you have different endings in base of the choices you make during the game, and there are mini-quests that leads to a more light-hearted experience, but the visuals and the screenwriting of Tell Me Why are the main reasons why this game, and Dontnod Entertainment in general, is moving towards a new type of narrative adventures.