March 11, 2018

Andreas Betsche

For Emery is a very personal story about death and grief

March 11, 2018 | Andreas Betsche

With the rise of indie games in the last years came a wave of new storytelling perspectives to the gaming world. Instead of telling fantastic stories about heroes and villains, game developers started to cope with their personal often traumatic experiences through the medium of video games. Some of the better-known examples here were That Dragon, Cancer or Nina Freeman’s debut masterpiece Cibele. Both of them take the players very closely into the personal memories and emotions of the game developers themselves and deliver unique experiences. Now, solo developer Amanda Lim (known as Sanud Games) from Singapore shares her own story in her debut work For Emery, a story about loss and grief.

For Emery 1
Germaine is on the way to cope with Emery’s death.

For Emery is a short visual novel with light puzzle elements as known from point-and-click adventure games. We take the role of Germaine who recently lost his friend Emery and wants to bring her back to life. After her incineration, he runs away with the urn containing her ashes and tries to find a way to resurrect her from the dead. In here, For Emery tells its story in five chapters, loosely following the five stages of grief as described in the Gilgamesh myth. During his quest, Germaine gets some help by Emery’s ghost, facing the challenges together. It’s here where the game unfolds its greatest strength. The dialogues between Germaine and Emery describe their intimate friendship and make their relationship believable and real. In the process, what seems a light-hearted adventure at first develops into an almost philosophical discussion about life, death, grief and letting someone go.

For Emery 2
The two friends working together and dealing with “obstacles”.

While not completely flawless from a technical point of view or in terms of gameplay mechanics, For Emery shines when it comes to the storytelling perspective. Amanda Lim delivers an intimate story with convincing characters and a very emotional plot. Being inspired by a classic of antique storytelling definitely helps making Germaine’s quest more intense and authentic. Lim’s work is illustrated through hand-drawn images in black and white which reinforce the feeling of solitude and pain through-out the game Yet, the comic-style gives some welcoming relief from the otherwise depressing theme.

For Emery 3
For Emery is partly told in cut scenes. Death is a steady companion in this game.

For Emery is short and suffers from some technical difficulties like crashes or plot stopper bugs. Yet, these probably unintended flaws reinforce the story in a strange way. Having to restart the game over and over again transports the feeling of grief and futility experienced by the game’s characters. Overall, Lim delivered a very promising debut game about loss and grief that is worth the 3 Dollar price tag and adds new elements of personal gaming to Southeast Asia’s ever- growing game scene. We are definitely curious what’s coming next by Sanud games!

For Emery is available for PC and Mac on gamejolt and and offers a free demo version. This review is based on a free review copy kindly offered by the developer.

Andreas Betsche

Andreas Betsche founded Virtual SEA in early 2016 after researching Cambodian mobile games for his Master’s thesis. He has a background in Southeast Asia studies and has worked and lived in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Since he has been actively playing games since the early 90s, combing both worlds in Virtual SEA brought together both of his passions.

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