Hollow Earth

The Graveyard

And now for the melancholy. I recently checked out the short game the Graveyard by the same Tale of Tales mentioned in the previous post. While it is short (it takes around 10 minutes) it, like Tale of Tales’ other games, is quite beautiful.

Similar to The Endless Forest, the Graveyard has a very simple concept. You are an old lady. In The Endless Forest, you are a deer. In the Graveyard (The Endless Graveyard?) you are an old lady. You’re walking in, wait for it… a graveyard. As with The Endless Forest, calling it like watching paint dry would leave you feeling guilty for belittling the engaging sport of watching paint dry… right?

Not quite. Right off the bat, the graphics are amazing (I played first in fullscreen at normal quality and then shrunk it as small as I could to run “fantastic” without lag). Birds fly around, tree seeds fall to the ground, and thick clouds cast shadows on the ground. The game is in grayscale and has the feeling of walking through an Edward Gorey drawing. You start at the graveyard gate (you pass through the gates to exit the game, which first perplexed me as I tried to find the cursor or the [X] button) and can move the character forwards along the path to the bench. You may also move her along the side paths, but they only go a short distance. If she walks too long (roughly 8 steps) she limps and goes slightly slower (though resting takes longer). Once you get to the bench, you can slowly turn her around and back her up to it where, after a few moments rest, she sits. What follows is a sad song (in Flemish) about the many friends and family the woman has seen pass away and about the woman’s own coming death. The scene plays out with the old woman’s deep-wrinkled profile overlayed on the right and tombstones intermittently-overlayed on the bottom. You can get up at any point during the song and leave.

Now for the more controversial, depending on your opinion. The version most people first see is the “trial” version. The “full” version, Tale of Tales says, only contains the single added feature of the possibility of the woman’s death. The full version costs $5, which comes out to $0.50 a minute if you spend the whole ten minutes. The game, they say, was an experiment in making an engaging game in a short time-frame and on a small budget. So, for me, that money is more a way to support the company than some morbid “gimme five bucks to watch her die” idea.

Lastly about the game. I think they succeeded in making an engaging game as I’ve played it several times. It’s such a simple game and yet there is a depth there hard to convey and that this very simple game can invoke emotions and empathy is a grand achievement. It would have been fine and thought-provoking enough had it been in other forms of media. A picture, the music, a short film on YouTube– but the medium of the game seems to tie it all together better than even the most cohesive of the above media (the film) could do. It is that direct source of empathy, that you can connect to the character, that makes this an amazing game.


Filed under: Reviews

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All posts are my opinion only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others.
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