A Mortician’s Tale

“A Mortician’s Tale” by Laundry Bear Games (Gabby DaRienzo & Andrew Carvalho), Halina Heron, Jacquelin de Leon, Jen Costa, Kaitlin Tremblay, Robby Duguay & Chris Dwyer.

“[A] narrative-driven [death-positive] video game where you play as a mortician tasked with running a funeral home. Take on the role of recent funeral direction graduate Charlie as she learns the ropes of the business and industry. Prepare the bodies of the deceased[,] […] attend their funerals and listen to their loved ones’ stories, and interact with Charlie’s coworkers, clients, and bosses.”

The relationship of video games and death can be described as a paradoxical one. On the one hand, death is a nearly omnipresent element in so many of them, as you kill monsters and shoot enemies without batting an eyelid. You die, just to respawn at the last checkpoint and take it as granted. Or take titles with a permadeath mechanic, forcing you to completely start over when your character died.

But on the other hand, while we as players are pretty comfortable with the acts of killing and dying in games, it seems like there is a partly sociocultural, partly personal barrier of dealing with the reality of death in our beloved medium. When we face a title that wants to educate us about this topic, some of us may react with the old “That is not entertaining and thereby not something I want to play!” bit. It is somewhat understandable, but then we might miss the chance to get a better understanding about this delicate topic and even about ourselves. That is why I want to show you “A Mortician’s Tale” today: A fantastic, death-positive gaming experience, that will teach you about the basics of burials, mourning and human nature.

You play as a newcomer to the funeral business called Charlotte alias Charlie. It is her job to prepare the bodies of recently deceased people according to their last wishes. You will learn how an embalming and a cremation really works, how people differ in their type of mourning, why black is not an universal color for sorrow and a lot more. All this information gets passed to you via direct communications with the funeral guests, via email communication with your sister Jen, your co-workers as well as bosses or thanks to the highly recommended newsletters.

As it is is a story-driven game, you will also be the witness of a crucial redevelopment of your workspace. In the beginning, it is a somewhat ‘cozy’ family business, but as the economics shift for the worse of it all, a bigger corporation buys the place. Some decisions have to be made, if you do not want your work ethics to go overboard. All in all, I think “A Mortician’s Tale” fills a niché that should never be blank at all, as it makes an inevitable part of our life more accessible. [PLAY]