Games for PC & Console

The shadows of the past – Tell Me Why in test

Homecoming – In Tell Me Why Tyler Ronan returns to his hometown after ten years. In the narrative adventure game from Dontnod Entertainment and publisher Xbox Game Studios, twins Alyson and Tyler face their past. We have played through Tell Me Why and don’t want to withhold our impressions from you.

Reunion

Ten years after the death of their mother, twins Tyler and Alyson Ronan meet for the first time. While Alyson continued to live in their hometown all that time, Tyler is only now returning. Despite the long separation, there is still a special bond between them that they are now rediscovering. Alyson and Tyler can communicate with each other through a supernatural telepathic bond. They call this phenomenon “The Voice.

Alyson and Tyler Ronan

Together they visit the house of their childhood in the small town Delos Crossing. There are many memories attached to the house and it is the scene of the fateful events that separated the siblings at that time. Now Tyler and Alyson want to part with the house and sell it.

home

However, memories are awakened during the inspection of the house. Soon Alyson and Tyler must ask themselves what really happened ten years ago. Tyler in particular is confronted with insights that cast a new light on his relationship with his deceased mother. The search for answers is difficult, not everyone wants to talk about that time and the twins find that memories can be deceptive.

Secrets and conversations

Tell Me Why is a story-based adventure game. The focus is clearly on the characters and the story. Even though conflicts are revealed quite early, the story unfolds slowly in the beginning and gives you time to get to know the characters. Later on the story develops quite fast, so it’s a bit of a pity that Tell Me Why has only three episodes. It’s about the past of the twins, their family and the people close to them. Although the decisive events took place ten years ago, they still have an impact on the present.

As before

You take turns playing Tyler and Alyson and explore the world with them. Interesting objects or the like can be viewed and examined more closely. The twin you are not playing at the moment is usually on his own. While you and Alyson solve a task, Tyler explores and interacts with the environment on his own. For example, he complains that it is too cold, goes to a small heater and warms his hands.

But if the other twin has nothing to do at the moment or just follows you around, then it happens that he stands around clumsily in the way. In some places the siblings can also sit together and talk. So you should check what the other one is doing from time to time, maybe there is a chance for a conversation if you join them.

In the dialogues the relationship between the two is shaped. The same applies to conversations with other characters, they can be more or less helpful to you, depending on how you behave. The twins can also use their connection to each other and the voice. So they can communicate with each other without an outsider noticing.

Memories and goblins

Central elements in Tell Me Why are the memories of the twins. Everywhere in Delos Crossing and their house they encounter echoes of earlier events.  Tyler and Alyson can focus on these echoes and make them visible. However, memories are not always clear. Some of the siblings remember very differently. You then decide which version of the memory you want to pursue.

Alyson and Tyler also have to solve some puzzles. The difficulty level is not too high, so there is little risk of being torn out of the game flow. The puzzles are rather well integrated into the environment and the course of the game. The game also gives you tips and if you don’t get ahead at all – or if you just don’t feel like solving puzzles – you can usually reach your goal by an alternative route. However, your approach can have consequences. Beside the small puzzle tasks there are also two “Quick-Time-Events”, which are simple, but a bit confusing at first sight and look a bit inelegant.

The most important object of the twins is the Book of Goblins, a kind of fairy tale book from their childhood. The stories in it are not only fun to read, often the book also contains hints or answers.

Which decisions, dialog options and actions influence the relationship to others is sometimes more and sometimes less obvious. Your decisions also influence the end of the game and thus the future of Tyler and Alyson. At the end of each chapter, you can see an overview of your decisions and their consequences, as well as the percentage of players who decided the same or different.

off the beaten track

If you are attentive, you can also find hidden collectibles. The collectibles are optional, but it is actually fun to search for them because they are thematically integrated and don’t just feel like banal collectibles for Achievements. If you missed an object, that’s no problem either. Similar to the Life is Strange games, you have the possibility to replay single sections in “Collect Mode” in Tell Me Why.

Beautiful Alaska

We experience all this in an incredibly beautifully designed world. Graphically and atmospherically Tell Me Why offers great cinema. You can enjoy the view of the fantastic snow landscapes around Delos Crossing and explore very detailed and lovingly designed places.

Enjoy the view

Although the small town of Delos Crossing in Alaska is a fictional place, Dontnod Entertainment has taken great care in the design. In Tell Me Why the Tlingit culture plays an important role. The Tlingit are an indigenous people who live in Alaska. Dontnod Entertainment has worked with the Huna Heritage Foundation for the presentation of cultural elements such as artistic works, customs or language.

One of many Tlingit artworks

The twins’ house and the other places seem authentic and invite you to explore. If you look around carefully away from your current destination, you can learn a lot about the Ronan family and other characters and thus dive even deeper into the story.

Not only visually Tell Me Why is convincing, also the sound scenery is remarkable. Besides the excellent background music, there are countless smaller details in the surroundings which you can hear. If you walk past a row of locked lockers you can hear the sound of a cell phone ringing in one of the lockers. In a quiet office room, the whirring of a ceiling lamp is listening and the like.

Graphics and sound in Tell Me Why simply create an incredibly coherent overall picture and provide the perfect atmosphere for the story and its characters.

Conclusion

All in all, Tell Me Why is an extremely successful and beautiful game. Fans of the Life is Strange series will probably feel very well taken care of right away. Dontnod Entertainment again presents an exciting story, which is told excellently.

Tyler and Alyson are both sympathetic, have their peculiarities, strengths and weaknesses. There are emotional, but also relaxed and beautiful moments. Exploring the places in Delos Crossing is fun, here you wish the game were a little longer to get to know more. The small puzzles and tasks are well done, sufficiently demanding, but not too complicated for the game.

Tell Me Why is a clear recommendation for fans of story-driven games and adventures. The playing time of Tell Me Why is about 10 to 12 hours, depending on how much you explore on the side. If you also want to see everything, there is no way around playing the game more than once due to the decisions and effects. Tell Me Why is available for PC (Windows 10) and Xbox One at the price of € 29.99* and is included in the Xbox Gamepass.

Pro
Contra
Story
85%
+ exciting mystery drama
+ great characters
– unfolds slower at the beginning, later a little too fast
Gameplay
90%
+ file levels to explore
+ puzzle
+ Decisions have effects
+ several ends or variations
– irritating Quick-Time-Events
– the other twin is annoying when he is in the way
Balance
80%
+ tips for puzzles
+ often alternative solutions
Control
85%
+ Controller support on PC
+ Customizable keyboard layout
+ Options for accessibility (font size, subtitles for the hearing impaired etc)
Graphic & Sound
95%
+ fantastic atmosphere
+ graphically beautiful landscapes
+ detailed sound backdrop

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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