Of Two Minds review
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Of Two Minds review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on February 20th, 2024
Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar :: TOO FAR GONE
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This FMV game is most interesting as a curious cultural artifact and little else.

Developer: Burgeon & Flourish, LLC

Price: $2.99
Version: 2.0
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starhalfstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

I wouldn't say there's been a whole lot of expermientation that I've seen around reinventing FMV games, which are also commonly referred to as interactive movies or games that use video clips as its main way of presenting the experience.Sam Barlow's output is probably the most "out there" the genre has gotten, and Of Two Minds more or less takes after his approach to nonlinear clip-hunting. Unfortunately for Of Two Minds, though, the most compelling thing about the game is how the clips in the game even exist, which is something you can find out about very easily without having to slog through its pretty bizarre and overwrought storytelling.

Analyze this movie

Of Two Minds tells the story of a few different characters, all of whom have some ties to the practice of psychoanalysis in the 1980s. Some are analysts, some are analysands, some are both, and some are neither. The core of the story follows one character in particular (a woman named Annie) as she uncovers some repressed memories over the course of initiating and juggling several adulterous affairs.

You don't really know much of this at first, as the game's opening segment is just a minute long clip of two characters talking to each other vaguely about needing to tell each other something, which opens up the game structure of using psychoanalysis terminology to sift through hundreds of clips that eventually tell a barely cohesive narrative.

Teaching and tapping

Of Two Minds has players discover disjointed clips that eventually tell its full story by having keywords appear on video clips that players tap on to add to a notebook. Once the clip is over, you then can tap on various keywords to combine them into a search, which unlocks one or more video clips that contain those keywords.

You repeat this process ad nauseam while the game pops up to tell you about the keywords any time you encounter new ones for the first time. Most of these keywords are psychoanalysis jargon like countertransference and the aforementioned analysand, but others are more visual and conceptual motifs like colors, recurring objects, and time. In any case, it all feels somewhat arbitrary, because the most efficient way to play Of Two Minds is to tap every keyword that pops up to maximize your number of search terms after any given clip or set of clips.

Unconscious expectations

Beyond gameplay that feels completely rote and somewhat unnecessary, Of Two Minds just doesn't tell a very compelling story. Aspects of it are interesting, for sure, but the dialog in this game barely makes sense. Characters interact with each other like they are aliens who have never heard human conversation before. The vast majority of lines are extremely vague and almost all read as breadcrumbs for the viewer as opposed to something someone is trying to convey to the person they are interacting with.

Once you've reached a certain number of clips unlocked, you unlock "Case Studies" which summarize narrative arcs of each character, and only then does the stated intent behind the story start to emerge, though these explanations also reveal that the kind of story it is trying to tell is so bogged down by different meanings and threads that you can't really make much of it without someone making a concerted effort to try and explain it to you directly. All that said, I was somewhat compelled and fascinated by the clips themselves, as they were so remarkably dated as 80s footage that I wanted to see more. I spent a lot of my time while playing wondering how it was made or where these clips were taken from. As it turns out, Of Two Minds looks like an 80s movie because it--in fact--was an abandoned film shot from that time period that has been remade into this game.

The bottom line

In the end, Of Two Minds feels more like an attempt to teach players about psychoanalysis and film analysis as opposed to being an entertaining game or story, though it isn't particularly effective at being any of those things. It is most compelling as a cultural artifact, though being able to enjoy its odd 80s footage is not a particularly fun or efficient exercise.

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