LifeisXbox’s Mind Scanners preview | Hello and welcome to the first of many previews we’ll be writing for games featured during LudoNarraCon, a digital convention celebrating narrative video games, hosted on Steam. We are kicking it off with a game by The Outer Zone that surprised me a lot! Mind Scanners is a retro-futuristic psychiatry simulation in which you diagnose the citizens of a dystopian metropolis. It’s important to manage your time and resources to keep The Structure (something like the government) in balance. I was very skeptical about Mind Scanners, and initially, this game did not speak to me at all. However, I know not to judge a book by its cover so I dived right in with an open mind. And boy, did I enjoy the Mind Scanners demo!
Mind Scanners starts with a few mysterious letters and some ominous music that immediately manages to catch your attention. Unknown terms like Kapok make sure you start getting curious and want to find out more about what the hell is going on. All you know is that you cannot see your daughter, who is kept somewhere with a highly contagious mental illness. And if you wish to see her again, you’ll have to do your duties and gain the trust of The Structure.
Playing the game
You get a bit of guidance at the start of the game, which is enough to get you familiair with how all the features work. The basic principle is simple: you diagnose and treat patients every day. This earns you Kapok, a currency you’ll need for maintenance. If you reach the end of the day and you don’t have enough Kapok for maintenance, you get exiled from the city and cast into the outer zone. This means game over for you. Luckily, you can just restart from any of the days you’ve already survived, so you can go back to when things started getting bad.
Just like in real life, every day only has a limited amount of time. During this time (200 seconds a day), you’ll need to travel to patients, perform mind scans, and secure treatment. You usually get a few patients to choose from, and depending on how far away they are, it can, for example, cost you 70 seconds to get to them. The mind scans were something I enjoyed very much. After a short informal chat with the patient, you’ll be able to perform a mind scan. This is where you find out what exactly is wrong with someone. The patient gets shown various images, and they have to say what they see. Based on what they tell you, you diagnose them, choosing from three options, for example, ‘lacks empathy’. A wrong answer deducts valuable time, so you don’t want that. Get three answers right, and you can continue to the treatment. Getting an answer wrong will reduce one of your right answers, so that also kind of sucked, but made the game a little more challenging!
Last but not least, we have the actual treatment. After the mind scan, you decide whether the patient is insane or sane. When someone is insane, they get ‘amount’ and ‘types’ values, which will impact the treatment. The types indicate what exact treatments you’ll need the use (the devices), and the amount shows how often these treatments will need to be completed. You won’t have all devices at your disposal at the start, but you can use Kapok to unlock new devices, and Science Points to buy special treatments. As of right now, there are five regular treatments and two special ones. I’m kind of hoping that more will be added in the full game in order to avoid the treatment becoming repetitive. Nobody likes doing the same thing over and over and over and over again.
Another super interesting element that comes into play is that you’ll be receiving notes from Moonrise, a resistance group. It’s totally up to the player to decide whether they trust Moonrise, or if you report everything back to The Structure, who still have your daughter… EXCITING!
Release next month
Compared to my first ‘judgement’ of this game, I really enjoyed playing the Mind Scanners demo. It’s a fun game that offers a lot more than what you might expect. Mind Scanners currently has a free demo (lasting 45 minutes to an hour) that you can play this weekend, and I highly recommend you go give it a try! The full game is set to release on May 20th, so keep an eye on that date.