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Review – The Graveyard (PC)

Tale of Tales | March 21, 2008

I’m going to be up front here.  This isn’t much of a “review”.  It is more of a commentary on a “game”.  The graveyard is not a game in any real traditional sense.  Even Universe Sandbox, which is more of a simulator, still has some gamey aspects to it.  The only real gamey aspects here are the fact that it runs on a PC and is a 3D rendering with basic controls.

There is no real plot, there is only one character, unless you count the birds in the background.  You play as an Old Woman.  Your goal is go guide her through a Graveyard to a park bench, then guide her out of the Graveyard after a little cut scene song.  You can experience all of this yourself for free fortunately, the demo is free, though there is a paid version available.  The only difference is that in the paid version, each time you play the game, there is a chance that the old woman may die while sitting on the bench.

There doesn’t seem to be any way to quit the game once the woman has died, pressing escape only brings up the menu describing how to play the game.

It’s hard to push judgment on something like this.  It delivers everything it promises to be, the real issue is it doesn’t promise to BE anything.  The presentation is fairly nice.  It’s a really interesting tech demo.  I also plan to play through Tale of Tale’s title The Path, which seems to be a bit more involved, so there’s some promise that The Path will at least have a decent presentation.

Maybe I just don’t “get it”.  Even if it were meant to be some sort of statement about dying to help you reflect on life or whatever, there isn’t much to go on to feel sympathetic towards the Old Woman.  The song during the interlude is corny and weird and doesn’t help present a very emotional atmosphere to encourage very many deep thoughts on life and death. 

The Graveyard reminds me of going to a museum a bit.  You see a hunk of twisted metal called “art”.  It’s supposed to be meaningful and representative and metaphorical and make you thing but in the end it’s mostly just a hunk of metal.  Not even the kind of metal hunks that look like roosters made from pitchforks or wreckage from a car or anything, just a hunk of twisted metal.

The Graveyard and it’s demo are both available on Steam here or via the Tale of Tales website.

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