Title: Tell Me Why: Chapter 2
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Genre: Narrative Adventure
Available on: PC, Xbox One
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: Tell Me Why
Release Date: September 3rd, 2020
Tell Me Why: Chapter 1 opened up last week with an interesting and well-written start to the story. The siblings, Alyson and Tyler, got to meet each other after ten years and rekindle their bond while finding out more about their mother. It was a tough episode, with several difficult choices and some big revelations I didn’t see coming. Despite that, much of the episode was spent establishing these characters which I hoped would be explored in the next chapter. Now, Tell Me Why: Chapter 2 is out, exploring much of what was set up from Chapter 1.
Many Answers, Even More Questions
Many things from Chapter 1 are kept under wraps and hidden from us, thus to build up that sort of suspense and mystery while having you ask questions. Thankfully, Tell Me Why’s second chapter properly takes the time to explore and answer some of those questions. Where’s answers are given though, new questions arise. At the end of the day, Tell Me Why: Chapter 2 has you walking away with more concern and questions rather than answers. That leaves our story in an interesting place for Chapter 3, one that’s risky yet hopeful.
These questions birthed from Chapter 1 mainly result in Delos Crossing coming to terms with their part in Mary-Ann’s downfall. Her kids are hungering for answers and by whatever means necessary, they secure these answers. In a way, both parties are coming to terms with their past in ways rather unexpected. At the end of the day though, if they want to move beyond this, they need to talk about what happened a decade ago. Everyone (except maybe Tyler) may want to leave this unfinished, but they must push through. This journey is rather hard for everyone, and you feel that struggle throughout the story.
This desire from Tyler to answer many questions, and Alyson’s resistance of that, serves as much of the conflict of Tell Me Why: Chapter 2. The siblings are consistently at odds with each other, which of course makes much of the dialogue choices difficult. One wrong choice and everything could be thrown into a substantial argument. At the same time though, they require each other to heal. Putting you into these tough situations is equally stressful and exciting. As expected, these situations are only heightened by the broadening differences of their memories. These differences are becoming bigger and bigger as time goes on, leaving into question how these differences will play a part in the concluding chapter.
Unfortunately, Tyler’s inherent behavior does hinder this a bit. During much of the unchosen dialogue, Tyler finds he needs to act rudely to get answers. This wasn’t a big deal for Tell Me Why’s first chapter, seeing as the behavior wasn’t as rampant. Given what you’re gripping with this chapter though, it makes a lot of the choices very awkward. You’re presented with scenarios where you lose both ways, making much of the dialogue much less meaningful. You can either take a calmer approach, which feels jarring compared to his normal conversations. On the other hand, you can be rude towards others which fits Tyler’s personality but may not fit your feelings. Without that player agency, choices that he makes hold much less weight than they would otherwise.
Thankfully, the rest of Tyler’s character is well explored in this chapter. I mentioned last week how the idea of being transgender is a good focus for Tell Me Why’s story. That’s only further reinforced with the second chapter, as much of it is people understanding who he is. This type of understanding is important for the people around him and us as players. For some, it may be the first time they’re beginning to understand who Tyler is. As I always say, you don’t understand their struggles until you’re in their shoes. As much as I understood some struggles before this playthrough, my understanding is only increasing with this second chapter. It likely won’t be as much of a focus, but I hope for more for the final chapter.
And that brings us to the end of this chapter, which opens up a myriad of questions compared to Chapter 1. Part of me is worried Tell Me Why: Chapter 3 may have to rush to cover all bases, but that’s still three hours left. There’s a good chance they can do it well, and DONTNOD’s proven they can before. As Chapter 1 did well, Chapter 2 opens up a new idea that brings into question a lot of things. This is all specifically surrounding that fateful night of course. It leaves us with not only many questions, but a lot of concern for how situations have been up to this point.
Verdict: Tell Me Why: Chapter 2 looks beautifully into coming to terms with death and one’s part they play. These issues are incredibly complicated, which the game expresses near-perfectly through emotions and dialogue. While choices are sometimes impacted by the personality of Tyler, the rest of the story brings beauty in other areas. With a focus on transgender struggles, emotional moments, and great character, Tell Me Why: Chapter 2 gives a strong middle chapter that has you hungering for the final chapter.