Tell Me Why has officially come to an end with the release of its final chapter. Tell Me Why Chapter 3, developed by DONTNOD Entertainment and published by Xbox Games Studios, concludes the story of Tyler and Alyson as they struggle to find peace with the death of their mother while also digging up secrets from the past that will ultimately change the way they view their mother’s final days.
Like Chapter 2, this final chapter begins with a recap of Chapter 1 and 2 with the use of the fantastical world of goblins. The recap brings with it a new animation style that manages to be both whimsical and foreboding, engendering the drastic shift that occurred at the end of the last chapter. Chapter 2 concluded with a sudden change in Tyler and Alyson’s dynamic while Chapter 3 jumps right back into this turn of events with the twins no longer on speaking terms.
Chapter 3 begins with a vastly different feeling than the previous chapters. Things are bad between Alyson and Tyler. Just when the twins finally find their way back into each other’s lives, they fall out again. Chapter 2 brought with it revelations about their mother that created more questions than answers. The twins are sure that their father was not only present the night their mother died but also the day before and possibly is the same person who tried to burn their barn to the ground years later. Their father likely knows more about Mary-Ann’s headspace the days leading up to her death, but neither of them knows just who their father is, though they have some ideas.
It’s this unknown that stresses their new relationship. Tyler wants to plow onward and find out who their father is. Alyson, on the other hand, is still traumatized by that night and is overall just ready to let the past be. But, as we soon find out, the past instead won’t let her be.
Alyson is haunted by her past. This fact is apparent in previous chapters but really hits hard in this one. She has nightmares; she has a lot of guilt built up from not only her actions that led to Mary-Ann’s death but also the fact that she let Tyler take the blame. She’s also scared of ending up like her mother—a dead beat with little to her name. All this builds up into hallucinations and panic attacks.
Alyson’s mental health is a huge center point of this chapter and Tell Me Why Chapter 3 handles the stigma around mental health well. Not only do players go through breathing techniques with Alyson to calm her down after a panic attack, but players can choose to open up to Uncle Eddy and Michael about what’s happening. They both not only validate her feelings but also advise her to go to therapy.
This isn’t the first time the subject of therapy has popped up. Tyler talks about therapy a few times in previous chapters for his gender dysphoria and transition. Therapy often gets a bad rap or is used as a negative plot device so the way the game considers therapy as essential and positive is very refreshing.
I don’t want to reveal too much since this is the final chapter of the game, but this chapter is an amazing, emotional ride. Chapter 3 explores the psyche of the twins’ mother and the bond between the twins as well. The pacing of Chapter 3 starts out rather slow, with the focus being on Alyson’s mental health and the twins’ interactions with other characters while they explore both their feelings and the identity of their father. Unlike Chapter 2 where the players are hit with a lot of facts about Mary-Ann over the course of their playtime, Chapter 3 takes a while to get going. Eventually, there is a crescendo, the pacing picks up, and everything falls into place. When this happens, it’s a lot to take in but it’s ultimately very rewarding.
However, despite all this emotion and being required to make some hard decisions, the final choice feels a little lackluster and doesn’t warrant as much thought as previous decisions. There’s very obviously a “right” and “wrong” choice here which is a bit of a slap in the face given how the rest of the game offered some rather ambiguous choices. It may be hard to find the right way to end these types of narrative games to satisfy all players, but personally, the ending was less than thrilling for me.
Overall, Tell Me Why has been a fantastic story about finding forgiveness, accepting our differences, and the importance of found family. It works hard topics, such as mental illness and trans and LGBTQ+ experiences, into its narrative but never belittles them. DONTNOD has taken a more mature turn on narrative games and although it’s a relatively short experience, Tell Me Why is miles ahead of Life is Strange in both characterization and storytelling.
Tell Me Why Chapter 3 is available now on Xbox One and PC.
Tell Me Why Chapter 3
- Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
Tell Me Why works hard topics, such as mental illness and trans and LGBTQ+ experiences, into its narrative but never belittles them. DONTNOD has taken a more mature turn on narrative games and although it’s a relatively short experience, Tell Me Why is miles ahead of Life is Strange in both characterization and storytelling.