reviewed A Mortician's Tale
something i think this game does really well is reveal the politics of an industry that i never really thought about before but obviously must exist. how, like in every industry, capitalism strangles the humanity out of everyone involved, the workers and the people who should be grieving with dignity and peace of mind; how our most popular and profitable methods of funeral are damaging to the environment but those damages are ignored for the sake of profit; how the same systems that manipulate us into spending as much money as possible on services both essential and frivolous dressed up in the language of care are the same ones that warp our perceptions of how our bodies should be valued and how we think about them in life and in death. this stuff is portrayed in deeply upsetting ways that feel very true to me and i'm sure anyone else who's ever found themselves enveloped and chewed up by a corporate system.
the game explores other elements of the death industry that are fascinating and difficult and hopeful in equal measure. exploring the push and pull between a funeral's place as being for the departed and for the people they leave behind. exploring modern and alternative types of funeral services. education about the legal realities of funerals, and the ways people who work in the death industry may be compelled to disrespect the wishes of the deceased in varieties of ways.
sometimes i think the game's point of view when discussing and in one case (the chapter that addresses suicide) depicting some issues is overly narrow and a little clumsy, but in a game whose aim is to be broadly educational about a subject that is both wide-ranging and relatively obscure i think that sort of shallowness is forgivable in the long view.
the game's position as explicitly death-positive and its mission statement of trying to expose a different, more human side of the concept of death and funerals is great, imo, and it works, and i think it's smart that it does that while still being critical of the ways the larger systems of the industry fail people and communities.
clearly the devs at Laundry Bear are passionate and knowledgeable and packed a lot to chew on into a brief, pleasant playable package. i was glad i finally got around to this one.
Reviewed on Jan 16, 2021