10) A Mortician’s Tale (Laundry Bear)
When I first started playing A Mortician’s Tale, I didn’t know what to make of it. The gameplay here is, more or less, irrelevant. The story seems, at first glance, incredibly repetitive: you get a body, you prepare the body for a funeral service, you visit the service, on to the next one. In fact, as it chugged to the midpoint of the game, I wondered what the Hell the point was in what was becoming a grind. Then I hit the midpoint and it became crystal clear.
I have a different relationship with death due to culture and faith. However, the industry around death (specifically the funeral services industry) does remain something of a mystery because no one really wants to think about the process between death and burial. A Mortician’s Tale exists mostly to peel back the curtain around that industry to show why a person would be involved in it, what death looks like from their perspective and how the nature of the business has allowed for corporate culture to take advantage: willingly or unwillingly.
None of this would be possible if Charlie wasn’t such a well-thought out protagonist. Everything we get from her comes from outside exposition and her web searches. However, there is a moment in the game where her assumed feelings and the audience’s feelings should sync. I don’t want to spoil it because it is the moment that turned me around on the game. Needless to say, all of it led to one of the most intriguing and thoughtful visual novel experiences of the year.