Hello everyone and welcome back to another Jaggy’s Corner where I write about various video gaming topics. This week, I want to cover a game title that is releasing by DONTNOD Entertainment later this year called, “Tell Me Why.”
Before continuing, please keep in mind that this is not an in-depth article. I’m just going to give people some of my surface level thoughts on this release.
Anyways, for those of you that aren’t familiar with this title, I will tell you what I know about the game and why I’m excited about its release. (Those of you that are wondering why I didn’t talk about this game before, it’s because the trailer released right around my birthday and when a lot of real-life issues needed focus. I somehow missed the announcement entirely, and I’m sad about that.)
Tell Me Why is a narrative-based game that focuses on two twins who are untangling the memories of their troubled childhood. The two characters were separated for years, only to find each other later in life. After reconnecting, Alyson (the female protagonist) discovers that her twin is a transgendered male. Players will be able to play either character on their journey of discovery, which offers two different sides of their story based on the player’s decisions. While not much else is know (yet), I’m already excited about its release for a few reasons.
For one thing, the studio has worked closely with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to ensure that the character Tyler is realistic and multi-dimensional. By enlisting the help of GLADD, the developer is ensuring that they handle the character with care, while not doing a disservice to the transgendered community – which is fricken amazing in my mind. You see, DONTNOD isn’t afraid of pushing boundaries by forcing people to analyze/challenge perspectives and choices, even if those perspectives or choices are difficult. This video game excites me because I am of the belief that our medium can be (and is) impactful to people no matter what walk of life they grew up in. By creating this type of narrative, and knowing that the studio’s attention to detail will be inherently part of the development process. Titles like Life is Strange (LiS) and Vampyr have brought several characters to life. And, players that chose not to drain the blood from all the characters in Vampyr would know that all of the characters come from different backgrounds. There is at least one gay couple in the game – in case that fact was missed. And let’s not forget the option to romance Chloe as Max in the first LiS. In the case of Tell Me Why, the studio is taking a risk by rustling some feathers – feathers that need rustling, in my opinion. (Because, as we know, there are too many people that see through rose-colored glasses.) DONTNOD is not walking into this project blindly, nor have they ever when it comes to the creation of compelling, multi-dimensional characters.
Secondly, I’m generally excited at the fact that DONTNOD is publishing another story based title. With the exception of LiS 2 (only because I don’t have all the episodes for it), I’ve played most of their titles and loved them (although, while I was excited for Remember Me, it is the one game that left a bit of a black mark on their record. The studio has since made it back into my good graces.) And I say this even though there were moments playing the first Life is Strange that I had to get up from my computer to walk away for a half-hour because the game forced a decision on me that I didn’t want to make.
Thirdly, any of the games published by DONTNOD has contained music that spoke to me on many levels. In fact, in LiS, I spent a fair amount of time listening to the music loops that played in the scene where Max wakes up in LiS or when Chloe and Rachel are sitting quietly on the train in Life is Strange: Before the Storm. I felt that the music was poignant enough that I wrote an article published in Onder Magazine (part of The Ed Greenwood Group) about iconic video game music. That article includes one of my top songs composed for LiS which is Mt. Washington. And to this day, I can’t listen to that song without feeling specific kinds of emotions that were evoked during my playthrough. Those of you that have played the game will understand how much that song alludes to the story in the game without players realizing its importance the first time around. Honestly, the music is beautiful, tragic, and at times leaves a subtle positive feeling even after some of the most soul-crushing moments. Mt Washington in particular still haunts me in a strange way and it will always be attributed to the story of LiS for me… Anyways, the music is brilliant. That’s the take away here.
Those of you that know me will say that great storytelling is designed to cause a reaction – if it’s done well. In fact, a couple of years back I had written a piece about the difference in my reaction to the trailers of Detroit Become Human and The Last of Us II. While that piece cannot be found anymore, what I said was that The Last of Us II’s trailer was meant for fans of the first game, where Detroit was a whole new IP that would challenge a persons’ perspective (because of which character you play). So, to keep in line with this thinking, I maintain an open mind about Tell Me Why. Though, I expect that the gaming community will be divided on their views of the game. I mean, we can all see it now… The keyboard warriors will come out to say, “stop bringing politics into our games” and other similar BS. (I hate to break it to some of you, but that’s not called politics. That’s called life.) The other half of the community will likely applaud DONTNOD for their risk-taking and efforts in creating an excellent story with characters that are realistic and multi-faceted, regardless of if the game is successful.
But more to the point, I believe that DONTNOD will be able to pull off creating a true to life story that revolves around twins where one twin felt uncomfortable in their own skin to make a drastic change. While this is not a topic I’m all that familiar with, I do understand that it takes a lot of physical and mental energy to undergo the huge changes it takes to physically change genders. And in my mind, if DONTNOD can pull this project off, then they would be ahead of the game. I believe that the studio is more than capable of representing different groups of people properly and sensitively because they have consulted representatives from GLADD and they even went as far as hiring a transgendered actor to be the voice of Tyler.
To put it bluntly, bringing such a prevalent topic to the video gaming sphere is sorely needed because, unfortunately, there is still a lack of representation. Frankly, it’s appalling that in 2020, people are not treated equally because of their background, race, or orientation. People are still people and they deserve to be treated well. As it stands, I would agree that there isn’t enough diversity in video gaming. (Here’s to looking at you Escape from Tarkov.) However, with DONTNOD stepping up to the plate, I can only hope that the story is as compelling, if not more than the previous titles published.
Anyways, I am looking forward to playing Tell Me Why when it comes out in the summer. (Also, it’ll be the first episodic game where all the installments will release at the same time!) So far, I’ve really connected with DONTNOD published games, so I’m most likely to enjoy this one as well. But, we’ll only know that when the game releases.
Until next time peeps.