The Bytes Fantastic: Mind – Path To Thalamus

The trailer for Mind: Path To Thalamus is a dream-like series of beautiful landscapes, with a backing of melancholy piano and sorrowful synths. Promising environmental manipulation as well as a jolly good stroll through the corridors of memory and (of course) regret, it reminds me of Linger in Shadows, the demoscene project that broke through onto PS3. It all begins with a voiceover, which I managed to ignore, but it ends with another snippet of monologue that croaked out of my speakers, along with the mental image of a beatnik sitting on a windowsill and sucking on a Gauloises while contemplating the shape of the smoke, and pondering how fascinating he must look from afar. Mind is heading to the Rift.

Mind comes to us from the mind of Carlos Coronado, creator of the spiffy Warcelona mod for Left 4 Dead 2. I’m fully on board with the environments but the narration, slight though it is here, could be a sticking point. Here’s what the Greenlight page has to say about that:

Accompannied 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.

‘Snarky yet heartfelt’ doesn’t sound like the best combination, although if the game pokes a little fun at Mr LilyRose, I could probably find it in my heart to play along. At this stage, we don’t know if the opening line of the trailer refers to some kind of accident or a deliberate act that has filled Mr LilyRose with regret, but the fact that he is in a coma suggests we might be looking at the former. A tragedy that ends in the death of one partner and the mind-bending philosophical journey of the other.

There’s a weirdly warped Manic Pixie Dream Girl vibe to some of these stories (and hints of stories) about the death of a woman inspiring some fellow’s soul-searching inner voyage. Like the Dream Girl, the Dead Woman enables the chap to think and to feel things that would have remained locked away without her presence, or lack thereof. “How many times will I kill her?”, asks Mr LilyRose. Probably just enough times to resolve your inner struggle and become a more well-rounded individual. Hurrah!

Those are Friday thoughts after a long week of watching trailers that alternately explode or muse – sometimes both at the same time. I’m not trying to claim that there’s nothing to be said or explored from such perspectives and narratives – heck, Silent Hill 2 is one of my favourite games – but it feels like a thing worth nothing. Maybe not. Carry on.


  1. Didden says:

    I don’t know, the narration sounded good to me. A bit like the start of that film… whats it called…

  2. Strangerator says:

    Is this a follow-up to Route of Sweetbreads?

  3. trjp says:

    Visually amazing but I see things like ‘mirrors bending light’ puzzles and ‘roll the ball into the hole’ puzzles and – well – if you can create those visuals and not come-up with something better than that, it would be a real shame…

    At any moment I expect some match-3 or pipemania to leap in

  4. ArticXiongmao says:

    The scriptwriter here. While the game has been solely developed by Carlos, I was brought on board to write a script based on the already established story. The main relationship in the game is indeed with a woman, but it’s fraternal, not romantic. Of course, that is left ambiguous on the trailer, but it’s just a teaser after all.

    So, I’m happy to clarify a few doubts: there is no love interest, and we do not use the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. To be honest, there is not much of an opportunity for such a thing: the story is told through narration and the environment itself. It is about the protagonist’s obsessions more than anything else. There really is no place for a typical romance nor for the tired videogame tropes about women (dream girl, damsel in distress, etc.)

    Regarding the gameplay mechanics, it’s true there are familiar kind of puzzles, but they are uses as a basis and always mixed up in some way. I mean, every puzzle, no matter if it is in a graphic adventure or a physics game, comes down to “put key into door” or “push ball into mechanism” (or, in other words, fit puzzle piece into puzzle); the thing is making it interesting. That’s where the control of the weather comes in: depending on if it’s day or night, if it is raining or not, if there is fog or not, if it is summer or autumn, many of the puzzle elements are available or not. As you can imagine, a mix of these elements in the same puzzle can bring about some real complexity. For example, the puzzle in the mirror level is not about the mirrors; the thing you have to figure out is completely uneelated. The same thing happens whenever a ball is involved, or any other classic puzzle elements.

    • Geebs says:

      For pity’s sake please don’t do any of that “phases of the moon in real life” nonsense that Superbrothers did. That’s a step away from only allowing players to progress after they have provided photographic evidence of having stabbed a fork into their left eye.

  5. Taidan says:

    Mildly disappointed. Saw the word “Thalamus” and briefly thought that the legendary C64 developers were regrouping.

    Nevermind, this looks kinda fun too.

    • Antsy says:

      On the bright side it made me listen to the Sanxion loading tune again.

    • Retne says:

      I saw Thalamus and was expecting something close to hyper-deep.

  6. Shazbut says:

    I don’t know if it’s just the mood I’m in, but this looks great

    • Jalan says:

      If it plays even half as good as it looks, it’s going to be a glorious thing indeed.

  7. loquee says:

    Looks wonderful!
    This with the Rift could be really great.
    Hope I can somehow skip the puzzles though.

  8. EkoAzarak says:

    looks intriguing!

    no fucking clue what makes all these ignorant fucks keep saying PC games are stagnant and dying. The amount of amazing indie games is exploding and theyre more imaginative and interactive than ever.

    • GameCat says:

      But for every game like this you can find 100 casual indie puzzle platformers with zombies and sad stories.