Tell Me Why is free on Steam for Pride Month so I decided to give it a try. I really loved it! One of the biggest reasons I enjoyed it was that the main character was trans. Characters like this are important because not only does it allow trans people to feel seen, but it also gives people a chance to experience what it is like to be trans.
Tyler and Madison are about to be reunited after being separated when their mother died. The player finds out that Tyler was taken to the Fireweed Residential Center because he accidentally killed his mother in self defense after she went after him with a gun. Tyler believes his mother tried to kill him because she couldn’t deal with having a trans son, but he is not sure when he finds a book about caring for a trans child as well as a flyer for a conversion camp. Tyler and Madison decided to question everyone about their mother leading up to her death to try to figure out what the truth is.
Tyler struggled with his gender identity. He kept a diary where he wrote down his feelings of not wanting to be perceived as a girl because he was a boy. His mother confiscated his diary and he assumed then that’s when she realized he was trans and could not accept that he was trans.
Then, he decided to try cutting his hair really short so it suited his gender identity. His sister helped him and he then revealed to his sister that he wanted to be her brother. When he went to show mom his new hair, that’s when he saw the gun and assumed that she was trying to kill him because he was trans.
When Tyler is in the residential center, he decides to start transitioning. He picks the name Tyler and feels safe to express himself at the center. He decides to save up money for top surgery and is planning to use the house to pay for it.
How Tyler is Treated by Others
The town Tyler came was fairly small and it appears to be fairly conservative. Tyler tends to get comments about how surprised everyone is that he looks like a “real” man after his transition. At the beginning, a character called Sam doesn’t consider Tyler to be a “real” man. But, Sam later realizes how hurtful he was so he gives him a gift, a small knife, which is his way of showing Tyler he sees him as a man.
Tessa is a very religious woman and unfortunately she was not accepting of Tyler when he was a child. You find out that she gave his mother the conversation camp poster thinking it would “help” her and Tyler. She eventually learns how awful they are and is truly sorry and wants to restore the friendship she had with Tyler which Tyler can accept or refuse.
Michael is gay and is one of the few openly gay kids in their hometown. He immediately is accepting of Tyler and even has a little crush on him. You can choose whether to romance him or not.
Tyler assumes at first that his mother did not accept him for who he was. It turns out that she did. She fought with Tessa because she wanted her son to be happy and know that she cared about him and would accept him.
The problem was that she was always mentally unstable. She grew up in a strict family and when she fell in love with a man and had a child; she suffered a miscarriage which just caused her a lot of suffering. Then, she had twins. Tyler and Madison find out that she had an affair with Tessa’s husband, Tom, which led to her having the twins. Tom pushed her mentally because he did not want Tessa to find out who the father of the twins was. This led the mom to just mentally snap and take a gun because she just couldn’t handle the stress and pressure anymore.
Tom then decided to manipulate her kids. He wants to coerce them into staying silent because he wants to not have his wife and the whole town find out or else he wouldn’t win the election happening in town. He does tell them his version of the truth which is that their mother wasn’t threatening them she was trying to calm them down because she knew her kids were scared. From there you choose whether to believe his story or Tyler’s story where his mom threatened him. You also find out that Madison killed the mom to save her brother, but he wanted to be a good older brother and protect her so he took the fall.
This game was very emotional which is true for all games made by Dontnod. I found myself just wanting to continue the story like Tyler did, desperate to find out why his mother became so unhinged. I did like how all the characters grew to accept Tyler, even though I’m not sure how realistic that was for a conservative town. I also liked the emphasis on restoring the sibling’s bond which you can influence based on Tyler and Madison’s actions. In my case, I managed to have them still stay close. I highly recommend this game especially while it is still free.
Have you played Tell Me Why or an other Dontnod games?