Tell Me Why Review | Game RantDalton CooperGame Rant – Feed


Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange put the studio on the map, establishing its reputation for delivering emotionally-charged stories with the hook of player choice driving the narrative. Dontnod’s latest gameTell Me Why, is very much a continuation of what the studio established with its Life is Strange games, but the story it has to tell is not as engaging as that of Chloe and Max.

Tell Me Why is primarily a story game, with minimal interaction on the part of the player beyond selecting dialogue choices and clicking on things in the environment. Like Life is Strange, it’s essentially an evolved version of the old point-and-click adventure games, and there’s nothing wrong with that if the story being told is interesting. Unfortunately, Tell Me Why‘s story is a bit of a slog for a couple of different reasons.

The main issue with Tell Me Why‘s story is how it’s all about something that already happened, with very little in the way of forward momentum. There are long stretches where it feels like nothing is really happening. There’s nothing to look forward to, and there isn’t really a “mystery” to think about or unravel (one is introduced later in the game, but it’s too predictable to make much of an impact). The main characters are trying to understand more about something that happened – they already know what happened, and while there are some twists and turns, it’s laid pretty bare from the get-go.

Life is Strange has the impending apocalypse and a variety of other smaller mysteries for players to solve, whereas Tell Me Why has players going from one location to the next, collecting information that makes past events a little clearer. Life is Strange creates compelling questions that make players think about what’s going to happen next, whereas Tell Me Why gives players answers, and it doesn’t make for a compelling story.


Tell Me Why‘s story becomes less interesting the longer it goes on. The first Chapter is engaging, but Chapter 2 is when the weak narrative becomes apparent. Players will likely guess the big plot twist from a mile away, and that hurts Chapter 3. Tell Me Why‘s weak narrative really hurts the game, and it’s a shame, too, because there are many other aspects about it that are quite appealing.

For example, Tell Me Why‘s central characters are both complex, relatable characters that mostly act and talk like real, genuine people (outside of a few weird, out of character moments and some cheesy dialogue). Tell Me Why is the story of twins Alyson and Tyler, who are trying to sell their old family home where Tyler killed their mother in an act of self-defense. The twins can communicate telepathically as well as conjure memories from the past, though these conjurations are not necessarily reliable, and sometimes they remember things happening a little differently. It’s similar to things like the Detective Mode crime scene recreations in the Batman: Arkham games, except as the main gameplay mechanic.

Tyler is especially notable as being the first transgender character in a major game release, and there are quite a few scenes where people in his old hometown of Delos Crossing react to his transition. Some people are understanding, some clearly don’t know how to act, and others disapprove. The developers made sure to include a variety of distinct personalities and people of different political and religious backgrounds in Tell Me Why, and it does a good job of showcasing some of the challenges a transgender person may face in the real world. It’s a subject matter that has been virtually untouched by video games, and that fact alone elevates these scenes, making them much more interesting than the main plot.


One of the game’s more interesting moments takes place very early on, when Alyson and Tyler are riding a ferry back to Delos Crossing. As Tyler, players are given free rein to explore the ferry, though they are pretty much alone, with the exception of a conservative man. Players can push the conversation in a more negative direction if they want, but they are also free to have a pleasant talk with him instead, and while it’s a very small part of the game, it stands out because video games have rarely tackled politics in this way before.

The ferry ride in Chapter 1 is great for other reasons as well, as it gives players a breathtaking view of the Alaskan wilderness. The developers give players the option to just lean on the guardrail and soak in the sights, which includes huge mountains in the distance, sparkling water, and gorgeous green forests. This level of visual quality is consistent throughout all of Tell Me Why, which is a huge upgrade from Life is Strange in terms of textures and animations. Character faces sometimes still look a little wooden and struggle to convey emotion on the level that the game’s subject matter demands, but otherwise Tell Me Why is a beautiful game.

Basically, Tell Me Why is a more-polished, better-looking take on the Life is Strange formula, so fans of that game will likely enjoy it, despite its narrative hangups. However, others will be unable to get past the story’s issues, especially since the gameplay doesn’t have much to offer. There are a few interesting puzzles, but the most unique gameplay mechanics are all saved for Chapter 3. There is one very striking moment in Chapter 3 that uses a new gameplay mechanic that we won’t spoil here, but like the Chapter 1 ferry ride, it’s something that will likely stick with players long after the credits roll.


There is some fun to be had with exploring the environments as well, as it’s rewarding to collect information and find collectible items. Unfortunately, the game has a bad habit of yanking players into the next scene if they happen to accidentally trigger story events, keeping them from exploring as much as they want. This wouldn’t be such a big issue if replaying chapters wasn’t so inconvenient, but it’s not an appealing prospect.

Tell Me Why doesn’t allow players to skip most of the dialogue in the game, meaning those going back through for collectibles or to see how different choices impact the story will experience a lot of deja vu. This inability to skip dialogue significantly brings down Tell Me Why‘s replay value, unfortunately.

Most will likely have had their fill of Tell Me Why after a single playthrough, and with only three Chapters, the game takes under 10 hours to complete, and not much longer to find all of the collectibles. That being said, Tell Me Why will have a weekly release schedule for its three Chapters, which may actually be to its benefit in terms of the story’s pacing. It’s also worth mentioning that Tell Me Why is on Xbox Game Pass, which seems like the perfect way to experience it, for anyone that’s still curious enough to try it out.

Tell  Me Why is available now for PC and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided with an Xbox One code for this review.

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