Dontnod Entertainment’s games are often filled with compelling narratives, a strong cast of characters, and tough moral decision-making. These are successfully incorporated into their games like Remember Me, Vampyr, and their most recent game, Tell Me Why.
Most of all, Dontnod is known for developing the Life is Strange series. Tell Me Why, Dontnod’s latest game, hits nearly all of the checkboxes that helped make Life is Strange a success; in fact, it does this so much that it even feels like it could be the third entry in the series.
Tell Me Why follows twins Alyson and Tyler who have reunited after ten years apart and work together to uncover mysterious details about their childhood. Not only does it has the same distinct art style that Life is Strange games have, but thematically, they are incredibly similar in many ways.
The game’s narrative is driven through Tyler and Alyson’s shared experiences, not unlike the bonds shared between Max and Chloe, Chloe and Rachel, and Sean and Daniel. These are the relationships that drive the story forward and make them so memorable long after they are over.
Within the opening hour of Tell Me Why, the special connection between Tyler and Alyson becomes evident, even though they have been separated physically for years. By the end of the first chapter, it feels as though you’ve known these characters for a long time.
Once again, Dontnod did their research to give these characters a layer of depth to make them as realistic as possible. Tyler is transgender, and Dontnod worked closely with the organization GLAAD in order to represent him in an authentic way that is free of stereotypes.
This is not unusual for Dontnod; their previous characters come from backgrounds and situations that aren’t typical for leads in video games.
They carefully create relatable, believable characters who could truly exist but who don’t usually find themselves front and center as a playable video game character. While the teen dialogue is sometimes a bit cheesy, it doesn’t take away from the depth of the narrative.
As with Life is Strange games, there’s an element of supernatural ability in Tell Me Why. In the first Life is Strange game, Max had the power to manipulate time. In Life is Strange 2, Daniel has telekinetic abilities.
In Tell Me Why, Tyler and Alyson share what is called their twin “Bond” which allows them to replay their memories in the physical space before them and communicate telepathically.
This adds a layer of interacting with the environment as the siblings recall the memories from their childhood and even as a way to make choices and shape what actually happened. Just like in the Life is Strange series, decision-making is a notable part of the gameplay.
Though the choices don’t feel quite as meaningful or difficult to make as they do in Dontnod’s previous work, it’s still a way to piece together details of the twins’ story and strengthen their relationship, which could have consequences later in the game depending on how you respond.
For example, in chapter one, you must decide whose version of a memory you believe was accurate, which helps determines pieces of information you learn later.
Even the game’s soundtrack is reminiscent of a Life is Strange game. It has a modern feel while blending itself into the world as to not feel jarring or out of place, yet each song is catchy and pleasing to listen to. This is especially true during the cutscenes when you can sit back to watch and listen.
And like Dontnod’s previous work, Tell Me Why releases in separate chapters, which for better or for worse leaves the player hungry for more, especially when the episodes end with cliffhangers (and believe me, they do).
Even though Tell Me Why is the only game in its franchise, the game felt incredibly familiar to me as I played through the first chapter. From the way the characters moved and behaved in the world, to all of the ways you can interact with items in the environment, it truly seemed as though I was playing the next game in the Life is Strange series.
Tell Me Why is unmistakably a Dontnod game, from the narrative and characters down to the visuals and music. If you’re a fan of their previous work, especially Life is Strange, there is no doubt you will also enjoy this game as well.
If you’re still on the fence and want to know more about Tell Me Why along with its pros and cons, you can read our spoiler-free review of all three chapters here.