Tell Me Why is an episodic choices game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Xbox Game Studios. Tell Me Why has 3 episodes and can only be played on PC and Xbox One. In this game, you switch between the perspectives of Alyson Ronan and Tyler Ronan, Who are a pair of twins who were separated for 10 years.
The story follows Tyler and Alyson’s memory of their mother, Mary-Ann Ronan. They remember that when Tyler was 10 and still figuring out his identity, Mary-Ann stole his diary, kept on misgendering him, and in the end, attacked him and threatened him with a gun for being transgender, which is followed by her death. While they tell everyone that Tyler killed Mary-Ann in self-defense, the truth is that Alyson killed Mary-Ann, while protecting Tyler. After the Police investigation over Mary-Ann’s death, Tyler is sent to a place called Fireweed. Fireweed is a residential center for troubled children and teenagers, in which Tyler was raised after Mary-Ann’s death. While Tyler is there, Eddie, the cop who arrested Tyler, adopted Alyson. Eddie doesn’t let Alyson go to visit Tyler, fearing that when he killed Mary-Ann it wasn’t actually in self-defense. After 10 years, the game starts, and they get reunited. They go back to the town they were raised in – Delos Crossing, to sell the old house they grew up in. While they are cleaning and emptying the house for sale, it is revealed that there might be more at play than just Mary-Ann hating Tyler for being trans, and they start investigating to figure out what truly happened.
In Tell Me Why there is something named “The Voice”. “The Voice” is an unnatural ability to speak telepathically between them that the 2 twins possess. This ability also lets them share memories between them. By using the ability to share memories, it is revealed that Alyson and Tyler remember different things. It is a choices game, that is very short on “gameplay scenes”. Mostly, you just make a choice and see how it impacts the world. You can go around each part of the world you’re in, and check out the objects to get more information and lore about them and about the world. While in conversations with people, you can sometimes use “The Voice” to coordinate and play more carefully. Also, each time you make a choice that impacts Tyler and Alyson’s relationship, there will be a symbol that shows whether you made it better or worse. There are also quite a few puzzles in the game, none of which you are 100% required to solve, but are very enjoyable, even though not the hardest.
As for the graphics, there isn’t much to say. They were quite amazing, although nothing seemed realistic, probably because Tell Me Why has the “Life Is Strange” kind of graphics. The models were good, though not the best. The animation had some problems, but it was OK. As for other technical aspects, the audio recording was a bit off sometimes but overall pretty good. A big problem was that Tyler’s voice sounded pretty sore most of the time, but other than that it was OK.
The scripting in Tell Me Why was quite good, the game really made it seem like the emotions the characters were feeling were real, and I could really connect with them. The only problem was that I was really expecting the game to explore and reveal more about Mary-Ann’s mental health, but it mainly didn’t reveal anything about it. The dialogues were very good, from talking about memories to shouting at each other, everything was great.
When I played Tell Me Why, the start was a bit off, and not really the best. It was kind of boring and without explanation. But once I understood the characters a bit more, it became very enjoyable and I really liked the game. I really liked solving the puzzles and figuring out the story. Another good aspect of the gameplay was how I could choose between Alyson’s and Tyler’s memories. When there was an inconsistency between them, I had to decide which one seems the likeliest. A huge problem with Tell Me Why was how in a lot of dialogues, even in the last one, you can ask all the questions you are presented on screen, and the order in which you ask them doesn’t matter as well, which makes it seem like your choices don’t matter sometimes.
Overall, because of its great dialogue, original story, and good scripting, I recommend Tell Me Why to everyone who likes story-rich games, or just likes choice-based games – because god knows there aren’t enough of these.