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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.

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Founder of VNs Now.com. Long-Time Reader, Amateur Writer and Chef and Gundam Enthusiast. Opinions are Steve's, Facts are Mine.

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    Almost half of those aren’t even VN… Story rich isn’t doesn’t always mean VN you know. Some of this are way closer to a point & click or just and adventure game than a VN. Though there’s still debate over what a VN really is, I don’t think A Mortician’s Tale, Herald, Detention and Old Man’s Journey are even close to being visual novels. Maybe they’re great games, but not of the VN kind.

    • Hello! While I understand your point-of-view, I clearly disagree with it. If your argument is simply that there is more gameplay involved with those titles in particular than just a static image and narrative, I would remind you that the following games are marketed and accepted as visual novels that feature similar gameplay elements:

      – Danganronpa
      – 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
      – Hotel Dusk: Room 215
      – The Silver Case
      – Symphonic Rain
      – Policenauts
      – Sakura Wars

      Now, outside of that, all I can tell you is that on this site, we have seen both Japanese and English creators evolve the formula. You may not see them as VNs and that is fair enough. However, none of them are without precedent and, if anything, should be commended for not sticking to a strict formula and giving us something still in the visual novel medium, but also uniquely their own thing.