MIND: Path to Thalamus is a First Person Puzzler that throws you into a fantastic and surreal environment. You will bend the natural elements to your will in order to progress in this emotive, mind-bending tale.Read full description
"As visual, explorable art, it’s masterful. As a puzzle game, it’s rewarding and taxing." - Rockpapershotgun.com
"Stunning, intelligent, fun, Mind is a game that deserves to be remembered for a long time to come." - Telegraph.co.uk
MIND: Path to Thalamus is a First Person Puzzler that throws you into a fantastic and surreal environment. You will bend the natural elements to your will in order to progress in this emotive, mind-bending tale.
Wrapped in a mind-bending tale, the gameplay of “MIND” focuses on changing the very weather in order to solve puzzles: the player will cycle between day and night, modify the levels of fog and rain and even travel in time between seasons, changing the environment to advance the gameplay-driven story —indeed, the mechanics are directly related to who the protagonist is, what has happened to him and everything he is doing: a man trapped in his own mind, he must use all the tools at his disposition to escape to reality. Accompanied by the snarky yet heartfelt narration of this comatose patient, the player will guide him through fantastical forests, dark caverns and deceptive worlds of water and ice that directly relate to his emotional state at each point in his journey.
More than 30 different, creative puzzles seamlessly integrated into the environment.
6 ways to affect the environment in order to solve the puzzles
More than 20 distinct landscapes into with which you will be able to interact.
Turn day to night, make it so everything is covered by a blinding fog, summon incredible storms, travel to the past and make use of even more as of yet unknown mechanics.
More than an hour of voice acting that, while integrated into the gameplay itself, will tell you a whole story that is not about saving the world but about living through the pain of a father broken by his mistakes.
Face down imposing climactic enemies by using your creativity and everything you have learnt along the way.
22 achievements full of Easter eggs and references
The main developer is Carlos Coronado, the man behind Warcelona, one of the most renowned campaigns for Left 4 Dead 2, with more than 1,000,000 combined downloads, 96/100 rating at L4DMaps and made official campaign by Valve some time ago. This project was co-developed by artist Dani Navarro and scriptwriter Luka Nieto. Additional programming was performed by Jose Ladislao. Many other kind people also supported the project.
Mind: Path to Thalamus is another entry into the narrative focused art games. This one struck me as having been highly influenced by Dear Esther (especially in the tone and pace of the narration, as well as some of the areas), coupled with a more puzzle-driven experience, not unlike Portal (its intent being completely different, though). Unfortunately, the writing was weak, in my opinion, and the game seems very incoherent in its quality. Some parts of the game were truly good, blending its audio-visual design very nicely with the puzzles, while others just fell flat on their face, with far more generic looks, and puzzles whose pieces were simply hidden, leading to a frustrating experience. Presentation The first thing that strikes you in M:PtT is its visual fidelity. It has high quality textures and shaders that are very well used, especially at the start of the game. The skyboxes are majestic -- that's the best way to describe it, very detailed and often chaotic, in a good way -- paired well with the lighting effects. It's just an awesome looking game, if you like wandering around and sightseeing. Doesn't quite hold itself the whole way through The only complaint I have with it is that, while the beach areas seem are brilliant, with a bit of classic architecture and nicely reflecting sand, some of the other areas are far blander. There was a cave almost identical to the one in Dear Esther (which is unfortunate, because it's certainly beautiful, despite losing the unique factor), and there are some cannyon-esque areas that are not that awe inducing. The plain areas are also very well done with their use of color and foliage, very cool! There are also some more other-wordly realms that look pretty good. The only technical problem with it was the popping that happened due to the low draw-distance with some objects, even with everything maxed. The sound design was also very much alike Dear Esther. It's mostly very quiet and relaxing, with the occasional piano piece, and calm narration. It's certainly very atmospheric, and while not particularly memorable, I think it helps carrying the experience! I have a few problems with the writing. Presumably, it was too esoteric and pretentious when the game launched, so they've rewritten the script, making the story more clear. Unfortunately, they've completely removed the old script, as it seems. I wanted to try it out for myself, but I don't think that's possible. What's left, is a perhaps too direct and concrete script about the story of the game. So concrete that it lacks identification with the player, unless you were in a similar situation... Which deals with running from a tornado. Not something many people have ever been involved with, I'd say! This is perhaps not 100% fair, as there are aspects with which one could identify himself, but they're also so prevalent nowadays that it's a bit tiresome (related to guilt and family issues). This story is given between the puzzles, during otherwise dead time. Since two of the characters share the same name (for story reasons) it can be a bit confusing at times to know who exactly the game's talking about, due to the fragmented exposition. Regardless, I don't think it's bad, just felt a bit underwhelming, taken the rest of the presentation. I think I would have liked to at least play through the original script. General Mechanics The game's puzzles revolve around "manipulating weather". However, it's not as cool as it sounds, and it's only so metaphorically speaking. The main characters (from what I understood, a family tradition of sorts) studies weather phenomena. There's the connection. However, how the weather changes affect the game's mechanics is completely untied to actual weather, working just as a mechanic. With which there's nothing wrong, but it feels like the developer tried a bit too hard and in the end dropped the ball, for the most part. The puzzles are a mixture of conception and execution, the latter relying on the physics system, which is not very well explained at all. You have a neuro-something sphere, that you place in an element circle, to activate it. You can also stand on those circles yourself to activate said weather mechanic. You can control Fog, Day and Night, Rain, and Time. Night opens up portals, and something gives you a ball that only appears during the night, Rain rises platforms, Fog gives you access to small area (and propulsion -- where the physics come in), and Time reconstructs some buildings. -- Looking back at it, there's connection between the mechanics and the actual story, though very subtle. Generally, you wander around the levels, find the pieces, and then place the sphere and yourself sequentially, following a very linear path to the end of the level. It certainly sounds good in concept! And sometimes, they were nicely designed, on other times, not really. I'll now discuss the particular points that made this game frustrating, to me. 1.Invisible and/or Artificial Walls This is a big sore spot, to me. The game features these very fast, ever expanding areas that look absolutely amazing. There's also an almost perfect ballance between empty space and "landmarks" in some levels. However, once you try to go off the path, the game blocks you path with an invisible walls. On the first levels, this wasn't really an issue, as it seemed to give you quite a lot of freedom. later on, though, it revealed itself as something different. For such an atmospheric experience, letting the player wonder would be far for enjoyable -- perhaps having an improved Dear Esther influence, maybe even giving some of the more esoteric script passages to the player during those moments. The biggest issue with this, though, is how they place a single pillar or tree off in the distance, isolated from everything else. In any other game, this would be like a beacon, something for the player to investigate! Of course, once you walk 5 steps, you'll encounter an invisible wall. It feels so counter-intuitive... If there's to be a wall there, don't place those beacons. I mean, since so obvious that I'm not sure I'm missing some deep metaphor, here... Oh well. It could be much more by changing this simple aspect. 2.Puzzles are most about finding the pieces than putting them together Sounds cute, but what exactly do I mean. Aside from being very limiting, exploration-wise, the levels can be quite large -- which may sound contradictory, but stick with it. While somewhat large, they're very linear in where you can go. However, since the various pieces are so spread, every solution you might think of, will often take more time than it needed. Moreover, if it fails, you'll have to wander around for some more time, because it's not very clear, most of the time. For example, one puzzle was literally about taking the sphere and walking in a very defined path in front of you. You would finish the level in 10 seconds. However, that was only due to its initial conditions. If you took the sphere and went somewhere else, you would break those conditions. I felt rather lost, to be honest. The problem with that level was that you could not see the consequences of your actions. This happens more than once. This is very frustrating. You could solve the puzzles by pure luck quickly -- otherwise, you'd have to rely on guesswork and trial and error. Conclusion Enough rambling. I think I've written about my biggest problems with Mind: Path to Thalamus. It's a very beautiful game, and the first level really impressed me, even from a puzzle standpoint. Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn't seem to have as much work and polish put into it, and ends up having some very frustrating puzzles, hurting the rest of the experience a lot.
Mind is one of those rare games with more "wow" moments than you can count. The environments and effects really are as amazing as they look in the trailers and screenshots. The puzzles are clever and challenging, but not overly challenging. I only had to google puzzles solutions about 4 times, so that's not too bad. The story is ok and doesn't hurt the game, but it doesn't add too much to the game other than giving you a purpose to continue solving the puzzles. That is ok though, because you will be too busy looking around at the amazing environments to notice any weakness in the story. During my playthrough I didn't come across any glitches or bugs so the game seems well polished. I strongly recommend this game to everyone regardless of your gaming preferences.
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