Tell Me Why is a three-volume episodic adventure game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Xbox Game Studios, released over August and September of 2020. The game plays out much like Dontnod’s previous games, Life Is Strange, and features estranged twins reuniting in as they attempt to sell their inherited family home. No doubt, Microsoft have made the game available for free to keep as part of Pride month, given the game has strong LGBT+ messages. The twins are Alyson Ronan and Tyler Ronan, the latter being a trans character voiced by a trans voice actor. The game meanders through extremely mature themes, including the mysterious death of the twins’ maternal parent Mary-Ann Ronan, anxiety and depression, with multiple characters suffering from poor mental health with a level of realism some gamers may find distressing.
Tell Me Why is a wonder to play. Much like Life Is Strange, fantasy game mechanics are a core element of the game. Unlike Life Is Strange, where the player controls one character who can wind back time, in Tell Me Why the player flits between the two main characters, who share a special bond allowing them to sense how the other is feeling, communicate telepathically with one another and experience shared memories together. The game does not push any narrative with the representation feeling genuine and heartfelt. The game does not shy away from gender politics though, and shows how gender identity can affect mental health. Romance between Tyler and another character is also possible, opening the doors for a gay relationship. Critics generally reacted favourably to the portrayal whilst the game also garnered some criticism from more conservative reviewers. Tell Me Why won the Gamescom ‘Best Xbox Game’ award.
The game can be purchased for free from Steam here, and Windows Store and Xbox here. The offer will end at the end of the month, but if you ‘buy’ it for free now, it’s yours to keep forever. Tell Me Why is also available on Games Pass.
Words: Graeme Small