February 27, 2024

Once considered a creative cul-de-sac, the interactive movie – a video game made from filmed footage – is undergoing a renaissance. Like 2022’s Bafta-winning Immortality, Of Two Minds asks players to piece together a mystery from found footage, where the story is encountered out of sequence via scavenged clues. It’s unique in being composed from an actual movie, shot by film-maker Michael Bergmann in the 1980s then abandoned. Bergmann has revisited the archived footage and, with editor Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed, reworked the material into a video game format.

The game tells the story of a middle-aged New Yorker and the various men in her life: her therapist, her gambling husband, her lover and his therapist. In essence it’s a game about psychoanalysis and the desires and traumas that shape how a person behaves. As you watch short clips play out, words appear on screen to describe the things said or done: “avoidance”, when we see someone take a painkiller; “traumatic response”, when we watch a character recoil at the sound of breaking glass, or perceive the face of an angry parent in a frustrated partner. Click on the words as they pass across the screen and you add them to a “theme” bank in your Filofax, to which the game returns after the clip plays out. Next, by selecting two theme words – “sex” and “aggression”, say, or “aggression” and “glass” – you trigger a new scene that relates to the clues.

Each viewed clip is filed in one of eight folders, one for each of the story’s principal characters, and can be rewatched at any time. Piecing the story together, you feel invested in its telling and compelled to unlock new fragments of information. The period footage adds to the sense of dreamlike mystery, while the combination of depiction and label offsets some occasionally heavy-handed snippets of dialogue and symbolism. The act of drawing links between the characters’ dreams and obsessions, infidelities and promises, and associations and realisations becomes deeply satisfying – even, occasionally, enlightening. The result is a game that feels as though it was always meant to be experienced in this curious yet rewarding way.

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