Written by Xbox Ambassador Pandy Yato
Tell Me Why is a story-driven game that has captured the emotions of so many within the gaming community. A tale which speaks of transition, both physical and emotional, as well as the strong bonds of family & the repercussions of our actions, it carries many messages that draw out the feelings of a gamer and at times, can ask you the question and confront not only what has happened to the Ronan twins but sometimes, yourself.
And your own past.
Like so many others who have played this game, I too found myself feeling a mix of emotions and connecting to the characters of Tyler and Alyson in unexpected ways. I personally have not faced the same issues that Tyler has, but that past of being locked away from your family— not being in their lives— I have been there.
It was the sense of not being able to go home that I could relate to and, at times, not only could I see the child me in Tyler and the single parent me in Mary-Ann, but also my younger brother in Alyson and my mother in Mary-Ann, which made this game a challenge for me at times— a beautiful challenge that I felt compelled to finish and just let myself ugly cry at times to a wonderful soundtrack.
This game was cathartic to me in ways I did not expect and through confronting their demons, I faced some of my own. It is rare to find a game that can do that as well. Rare to find something that not only speaks to you on your wavelength but does it in a wonderfully creative and vibrant way.
Dontnod Entertainment have created something special here in my opinion and through my discussions with others I came to realize that other Ambassadors had felt differing things whilst playing this title, so I asked them how this game made them feel and some of them were kind enough to share their thoughts with me below:
“First of all. Definitely one of my favorite games this year. A really well made story that get the player emotionally engaged and draws you in. The thing with this game is that it draws on people’s own personal experiences to make the game a unique experience and we all feel and experience the in-game story differently, depending on what we carry in our own baggage.
Overall a great experience, with highs and lows.”
“I can relate to Tell Me Why from having to clean up my childhood home after a parent passed away. Trying to figure out their thoughts in their final days, trying to get the house ready for sale. Having to pack up my stuff and putting it all in boxes. Sorting through other items to see if they can be reused, or given away to someone else who can use the items… or thrown away if they are beyond repair.
As for the game I wish more people could experience it. I’ve read a few one-star reviews where some people couldn’t look past Tyler. Whatever your beliefs are about LGBTQIA+ you should give this game a try. I know you are supposed to be able to relate to the main characters but for pretty much every game I can’t relate to most of the main characters. As a 30+ year old gamer I can’t relate to:
Tell Me Why’s Alyson, a 20-something year old female.
Tomb Raider, a female character who travels the world searching for artifacts.
Every character from Halo, Resident Evil, Gears of War, Devil May Cry and so on. They all fight demons, space aliens and zombies.
I can’t relate to these characters but can still enjoy their journeys. Great adventures, great music and fun gameplay.”
“I really enjoyed my experience and play through of Tell Me Why. It took a lot of courage for the Ronan twins to return to their hometown and face their fears of such a terrible memory. I believe the game teaches us how to confront our past even if they weren’t the best. I also think how easily we can portray someone like MaryAnn as a villain without knowing her family past.”
Through lots of Ambassador conversations and forum posts, it has become very apparent that this game has spoken to many people for a variety of reasons and, on many different levels, some find a piece of themselves in the story, whilst others are drawn to the creativity of Mary-Ann and the boundless, Brothers Grimm-nature of her imagination, seeing that exhausting connection between mental health and creativity and how she reached the point that she did.”
Tell Me Why is a game that asks hard questions and gives even harder answers but it is definitely one that has got a lot of us talking about not only the game but ourselves and how we connected to it and that is ultimately why this game is so powerful, it makes you think about what it is saying and forces you to dive deep within yourself and react.
Your reaction to this game, whether positive or negative, and the themes it presents is entirely personal and subjective but that is perhaps ultimately the biggest and most unintentional question that Tell Me Why asks of us all who play it and that is… how do you feel?
I end this blog with some words from Mary-Ann herself, words I think we can all understand and perhaps, some of us need to hear sometimes:
“Do not let yourself be defined by the parts that are broken.”
If you are reading this and would like to share your views on this title, I would be happy hear them or if you are not an Ambassador and would like to come chat about games with us as well as make some new friends along the way, then kindly check us out here!
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