reviewed A Mortician's Tale
"Death industry" is a terrifying combination of words. The not-so-subtle mission of A Mortician's Tale is to show that that's not inherent to the concepts but an effect of how our culture interprets those words. More specifically, the mission is to take the sting out of the first word and caution about the second.
It succeeds well enough. The "industry" aspect comes across as almost cartoonish. Mom & pop store good, reasonable, empathetic. Large corporation evil, rigid, exploitative. Not that it deserves a rebuttal. I'm certainly not going to disagree. That it's taken for granted however causes the writers' politics to shine bright when it wouldn't be necessary with more gradual escalation.
The "death" side of the equation is far more affecting. Preparing bodies, attending funerals, and reading the funeral-themed newsletters (?) becomes meditative to the point that death, in a way I can't really articulate, stops feeling like death. It's not a numbness to death but perhaps a compassionate respect for death. Unfortunately while the game does briefly explore the different ways the dead can be received at the funeral home it does not give each one time to breathe. So when (no spoilers) one person's wake is starkly different from another, it doesn't have the impact I feel like it could.
These two issues are fundamentally the same complaint: game's too short. Not as in it's lacking in content but as in the pacing feels off. Let me zone out to routine jobs a little longer before throwing a moral choice at me. Let me work for the corporation a little longer before telling me I'm doing a bad job because I'm too compassionate.
Maybe that's outside the scope of what the game wants to accomplish. I did come away from this feeling more educated on the, erm, "death industry." I thought about my own death through a lens of comfort instead of existential horror. I'm still young enough for that to feel novel.
Reviewed on Jun 25, 2020