Review by RMattich
Reviewed: 11/01/99 | Updated: 11/01/99
An enjoyable graphic adventure and surreal experience. Another masterpiece from Square.
Released in November, 1998, Another Mind is Square's "Dialog Adventure Game." Set in modern day Japan, the game features actual Japanese actors and is a surreal life simulation that plays out like an interactive movie. There are eight chapters in the game which are said to take a player fluent in Japanese around 10 hours to complete. But keep in mind, fluency in Japanese is the most important requirement to deriving enjoyment from this game, as you will see.
Another Mind utilizes the "Dialog System" of integrating the player into the story. It is important to note that in Another Mind, the player does not assume the role of the protagonist, Hitomi Hayama. Rather, you are a voice within her head that must guide her throughout her everyday life. When you talk to Hitomi, you must construct actual Japanese sentences that are spoken to her. You lead her through a wide variety of predicaments, ranging from helping her with a High School Biology test to escaping a killer. It is also important that you give her good advice; if you misguide her, she will lose faith in you and no longer listen to you. This can bring fatal consequences in a life or death situation. The games menus require navigation through Hitomis address book, schedule, a map of Japan, and scrapbook. These all must be utilized throughout the course of the game. Therefore, a substantial understanding of the Japanese language is essential.
The prologue of Another Mind begins with Hitomis awakening in a black room. She is quite distraught and confused. The player speaks to her in her mind and the two introduce themselves. Hitomi realizes that the last thing she remembers was being involved in a car accident. Desperate for answers, the player is questioned about the accident, her near-death experience, and his occupation and interests. She eventually regains consciousness and finds herself in a hospital room. A nurse enters and Hitomi is informed of her injuries she has sustained. To reveal any more of this game's spectacular plot would certainly spoil it...
Beautiful. Each person's portrait is animated and changes expression fluidly, like a real human being. The scenes are photographic in quality and range from very serene and relaxing to extremely tense. The visual effect transitions between scenes are very well done and realistic. For example, when Hitomi suddenly gets a headache and collapses, the screen blurs, splits in two and fades out. Outstanding FMV sequences are in abundance and are shown quite frequently in important places, making the game seem more like an interactive movie experience.
There isn't much music to speak of, mainly because background music isn't present in real life, which is what this game tries to simulate. However, what music exists is appropriate for each situation Hitomi faces and enhances it well. As for sound effects, they add a great element of realism and detail to the game, such as doors opening and shutting and a television left on in the background.
Once you've gone through Another Mind, you know how the story progresses and is eventually resolved. Therefore, the game lacks in the replayability category, as most games in the graphic adventure genre do.
As I said earlier, if you are fluent in Japanese, you will find Another Mind to be a very enjoyable and fulfilling real life simulation. Seeing the world through Hitomi's eyes, interacting with her parents and friends, and helping her is a great experience if you know what you're doing. The characters develop nicely into believable human beings that the player cannot help becoming attached to. However, the English-limited gamer will probably become easily frustrated playing Another Mind and become bored quickly. A different type of game, nevertheless another masterpiece from Square.
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