Tell Me Why is a walking sim in a similar vein of Life is Strange. You play as a set of twins, one a trans-man named Tyler, and his sister, Alyson, in what I believe is Alaska. They are just living a mundane life where they’re trying to figure out why their mother tried to kill them, which resulted in the mother being stabbed and Tyler, still a young girl at this point, being sent off to what’s effectively a fancy juvenile corrections facility for, seemingly specifically transgender individuals. While here Tyler transitioned while working through his umm… court appointed period of time there. The story picks up when Alyson is getting ready to go pick him up from the facility, both of them young adults at this point.
Alyson and Tyler set off to their old house. Neither had been there since their mother died, obviously Tyler had been in the facility since then, but Alyson had lived with one of the police officers that knew the family; their mother was a single parent so they had no one else to live with. Well now they’re heading back, for vastly different reasons, Tyler wants to understand what happened and why, while Alyson just wants to be rid of the house and move on because she was the only one left in town and became infamous because of it, which she’s worked really hard to get away from, going so far as wanting to sell the house so that she can use the money to move to another city so she can finally have a fresh start.
Now I said that it was similar to Life is Strange, I mean that in two ways, the game is honestly about the mundane, Life is Strange is about friends reconnecting and figuring out a mystery, this is about siblings reconnecting and figuring out a mystery. The other way is they’re both fantastical as well, in Life is Strange there’s the rewind mechanic, in this game the twins can talk to each other mentally and also replay memories and see it in real life, though no one else can. And there’s a good reason for them being similar, they’re both made by the same company.
They spend their days with Tyler clashing with the Police officer who fostered Alyson, a possible budding relationship between Tyler and Alyson’s friend, and shit load of lies and half-truths to sort through to figure out the truth on EVERYONE’S end. There’s also some side plots with almost every single other character in the game which is nice. Oh and you have to reconnect the siblings or, I guess you could break them apart instead, but… fucking why would you? No one is who they say they are and half the things they say are complete bullshit. Oh also and many of the twin’s memories are fucked, as they keep finding where their memories are different from each other, which shouldn’t shock any of us as, I believe, it is common knowledge that memories are edited by the brain and changed over time. Regardless these memory differences start causing a rift to form between the twins and it’s up to the player to resolve this shit to try and keep the twins friendly.
I can’t say much about the story, it’s a few chapters long, but it’s mostly just looking for clues, if I expand on that then I’d be giving up story beats and I don’t want that. The writing is fairly good, but sometimes the conversations are a bit awkward because the things the people say just aren’t quite right, it’s just somehow off, but this seems to be kind of normal for the devs. However, the overall story is really good, and I like the trans storyline. Tyler sees his mother trying to kill him as a transphobic thing, because it was after he had his sister cut his hair super short, and the town was super religious. So to him, he wants to understand why his mother hated him, and quickly realizes again, not everything is always as it seems, or is it? It’s all about how you choose what the character’s choose to believe. This old styled city is slowly being pulled into the current fucking century as it’s homophobia is slowly, slightly starting to finally fall away due to the younger generation not being old shitbags, you know, the normal of how this shit works. I like that, cause in lots of games you don’t get that. In real life people AND places are shitty, but lots of people eventually realize when they’re being shitty. Many people when they realize that they start changing because they don’t want to be, or at least seen as, shitty. This in turn causes cities to slowly be pulled out of the fucking dark ages. People aren’t perfect, but more oft than not I believe people want to try to not be shitty, if for no other reason than most people don’t want to look like pieces of shit, because they want to be seen in a good light. I know what I’m talking about here, I’m a member of the LGBT community as all of you are probably aware of, and I grew up in a house with an extremely anti-LGBT step-father, I didn’t even know what gay WAS until Bush Jr. decided to be a twat and started talking about how he had no problem with gays but marriage blah blah blah, you know his stupid, that’s when I realized there was a name for what I was. My step-father made clear his feelings on gay people at that moment and fucking harped on it for YEARS. Eventually his own daughter came out as gay, I still haven’t come out to him because fuck that, and because of that he realized he was a really big fucking dickbag. He got the fuck over himself at a somewhat rapid pace, now years and years later, he doesn’t have issues with gay people anymore, still has issues with trans people, but, I mean, he’s old, he’s not going to get rid of all of his stupid bullshit, but he’ll die one day, it’s fine. Until then he’s become less shitty. That’s real fucking life, most people don’t want to look like a big piece of shit, but you so rarely see that in games. And once the people start changing the towns start changing to reflect it, that’s what this game brings, it’s still trying to figure things out, it doesn’t know the right terms, the right way of speaking, but it’s trying, and that’s impressive to see in a game.
Overall, the game is okay, it’s not in my top ten, it’s not super impressive, but it’s a decent game, it’s fine. I like the puzzles in it, which were a big draw for me as I love puzzles, but beyond that it was very middling. It was just okay, it was a really good looking game, not quite fully realistic because of the color palette but otherwise fairly realistic looking, a very nice looking game. The magical memory stuff and the overall subject matter, as mentioned above, in the game were both unique and I can appreciate that. And just as an extra note, because I’m old, the entire time I’ve been writing this, the song I Want it That Way has been stuck in my head.
Tell Me Why was developed by Dontnod Entertainment.
Point of Sale: X1 and Steam.
A review copy of the game was played via Xbox Game Pass.
darkmikasonfire awards Tell Me Why the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval mostly on the merit of subject matter.