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 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.
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 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!