Jorian
Rutten

"Everything you do in life is insignificant, but it's very important that you do it."

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A Mortician's Tale is a game about death, funerals and everything no one seems to want to talk about. The gameplay, which bears similarities to the "make-up" browser games, is minimal. The narrative and art style compliment the gameplay, but are nothing to write home about either. But you should play this game anyway. Because it was never made to be a dazzling spectacle. It is supposed to educate you about what happens after someone dies, and help you formulate your own values, priorities and rituals. And it is perfect exactly for that reason. In A Mortician's Tale you play Charlie, a newly appointed Mortician in a Funeral home. You get lead through all the steps in preparing bodies for the funeral or cremation. There is no real challenge here, no choices: you follow the instructions, and make sure the body is handled as requested. Afterwards you get to talk to the family, and learn a bit more about the life and death of the person you cared for. I was surprised at how informative A Mortician's Tale is. The developers have clearly put a lot of effort in their research, and that has seeped through into the narrative. The emails you go through every morning contain a lot of educational information about death, it's rituals, and your options. The game starts a conversation about what your values are, and where your ethical lines lay in regards to the last wishes of the deceased. And in doing that the game also manages to hold a surprising amount of emotion, especially for a game in which you, as the player, have so little control. I found myself caring more than expected about the workplace culture, representing the wishes, and making sure that each person got a respectful send-off.  My only gripe with the game is how passive the player is in the story. I want to be more involved in the process - talking to families and comforting them, deciding how to handle the wishes of the deceased, and perhaps slowly working towards my own company. All of these are handled without any player input. This feels like a missed opportunity to make a bigger impact by involving the player in the story, and letting her make a stand for her own beliefs. Overall I recommend that you give A Mortician's Tale a shot. It is the best kind of educational game: playful and extremely informative without the player realising. Although it will only take an hour or two to play through, I provides a lot of value larger in the context and knowledge you take away from it. So if that is something you are interested in (and you should be), go play A Mortician's Tale!
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