Review: Mind Scanners

  • Version Played: Xbox Series S

This is one game I didn’t finish. I liked the idea of Mind Scanners: it’s a game with a similar style and premise as the great Papers, Please, set in a dystopian future where you have to scan minds and declare if they’re sane or insane.

Your daughter is currently being “treated” by the structure, so you have to work for them as a Mind Scanner in order to see her again. They ask you to fix anyone you declare insane, and to watch out for people who could disrupt the structure.

Treating someone comes in two stages: first the person you’re investigating will say statements about themselves, which you have to categorise to diagnose their problems. Get three of these correct in a row and you can decide if they’re sane or insane.

This part of the game is great, in its own horrible way. The extremely black and white options of simply “sane” or “insane” make you want to not classify some people as insane, but it’s behaviour that the “structure” doesn’t want, so sometimes you decide to mark someone as insane as you feel you have to. The extremely blatant nature of it makes you think more about each person’s issues – and there are really some interesting characters. Every now and then there will be someone broken, giving you a bit of relief that you’re actually helping someone.

The second part is treatment. It has some nice ideas: fixing them with your Mind Scanner drains their personality (the “structure” has no issue with you fully draining it – they may actually prefer it), there are ways to save their personality, but it costs valuable time. It’s an interesting choice.

Unfortunately, how you do this is where the game fails: each item you can use to treat someone requires you to play a basic minigame that doesn’t tell you what to do, so you have to try and learn it. Some are really obscure and require sticks and multiple buttons to use. With all the difficult decision making you have to do, it’s just a massive downer when your choices are rendered meaningless because of extremely vague minigames. On top of that, they’re extremely, extremely repetitive.

The game certainly has some nice ideas, but the frustrating minigames really sours it

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