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Quick Look: A Mortician's Tale

Alex and Abby team up to learn a thing or two about the Death Industry.

Sit back and enjoy as the Giant Bomb team takes an unedited look at the latest video games.

Oct. 21 2017

Cast: Alex, Abby

Posted by: Abby

In This Episode:

A Mortician's Tale

Episode Notes:

This game deals very closely with death and dying. It's all handled respectfully, but it's not for everyone.

44 Comments

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iwanecky

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Edited By iwanecky

This game seems really interesting, thanks for the quick look and for pointing it out.

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tepidmule

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Kinda morbid premise...

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Spindini

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Wow. Are they running out of ideas. This looks pretty awful. Maybe I just don't get it.

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meissnerd

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If this game was any less cartoony I don't think that I could've watched this, haha. I don't know if I'll ever be able to play this but I'm glad that it exists!

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BeachThunder

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This is by far the weirdest Sonic spinoff game...

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dancinguy

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This seems really bad taste. I'm not entirely sure this game needed to exist

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Efesell

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This seems really bad taste. I'm not entirely sure this game needed to exist

Why? It's not in bad taste to just address a thing.

The exaggerated movement of some of the mechanics can be somewhat weird but it's a side effect at best.

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Jetlag

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Big Death is real thing, they're just smart enough to make all of their franchises appear to be family operations.

And while half of the games that come out today are basically murder simulators, how can people have a problem with *this* game?

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ALavaPenguin

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Edited By ALavaPenguin

I worked at a funeral home for a few years, primarily as a crematory operator but I did about everything there. I was impressed with how much this game did get correct in some of the processes... but some stuff randomly just stand out as really weird to me. I was surprised at how accurate the embalming was but then it missed some big things that even hollywood gets right in the funeral process somehow. For the most part they did get some details done right, even if it is in a weird cartoony sort of way. I would be interested to see though if this game goes into an embalming after an autopsy though, as that type of embalming is much more complicated [and WAY more gross] than the type that is shown here.

I definitely see how they are saying some of this stuff is treated a bit too cartoony. Not that it makes it disrespectful but just sorta misrepresents how it works. Mostly the cremation blender part [for lack of a better term]. Yes the body does not just instantly turn to perfect powder in a crematory, but the thought of just tossing perfectly intact skulls, femurs, and so forth like that into there was really silly. Doesn't really give an accurate representation. Real cremations are honestly a very dirty process with a lot of truths the general public doesn't want to know, so I will avoid that. Plus I think if they were going to go that route they really missed an opportunity of a perfect "activity" with how this game has those of retrieving the remains from the crematory. I was surprised that it just went straight to the blending phase.

So just my perspective from the quick look, it was surprisingly detailed in some ways if not getting some significant things a bit wrong that could have misrepresented the industry.... but at some point when they are trying to abstract it into a video game I am being a touch too nitpicky, just saying what I see though . Some stuff does sorta misrepresent the industry but for a video game it was a lot closer than I expected it to be. :)

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birdsoul

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@dancinguy said:

This seems really bad taste. I'm not entirely sure this game needed to exist

I understand your point but I really, really disagree. IMO we ('society', w/e you want to define that as) do not spend enough time addressing the reality of existence, namely that it will end. I went to my first funeral about a year ago at age 30, and I basically had zero idea of what to expect or how to behave besides generally respectful. I spoke to several people there who felt the same way I did. It was more unpleasant than it needed to be because of our collective ignorance.

Not everyone is going to be in that position, of course, and everyone handles things in their own way. Grief is strange. This game is never going to fix the sense of loss that death brings but if it can help people understand themselves and their own reactions to trauma that is probably helpful.

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cikame

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I'm a CSI fan, i find post mortem's super interesting.

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MeierTheRed

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MeierTheRed  Online

I work with severely demented people in a shielded care unit, so over the last 7 years of my life i have seen more people pass away then i can count on both of my hands. This seems interesting as even though i have helped prepare so many bodies before the morticians comes to drive them away in their caskets, i actually don't know much of the whole process afterwards. That's still kind of a grey area for me, this game seems like it goes into those areas. Seems like it would be somewhat of a learning experience.

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heatDrive88

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Edited By heatDrive88

@alavapenguin:

I'd like to think that even for its slightly more cartoony elements, and its medium as a video game, is all in the purpose in possibly exposing people to rethink how they conceive death. I'm sure as you know, culturally we probably don't plan or care enough about ourselves (or those around us) when it comes to the end-times of our lives, or we would much rather treat it as a "black box" and not pay attention to what is involved until we really absolutely need to.

So if anything, I can appreciate this game quite a bit for what it may be trying to do.

I have often thought a lot about this article that I read, which gave me a more positive outlook on death itself.

https://www.vox.com/2014/10/30/7047429/mortician-death-dying-caitlin-doughty

I quite like the final paragraph:

We can wander further into the death dystopia, denying that we will die and hiding dead bodies from our sight. Making that choice means we will continue to be terrified and ignorant of death, and the huge role it plays in how we live our lives. Let us instead reclaim our mortality, writing our own Ars Moriendi for the modern world with bold, fearless strokes.

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paulunga

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SansJason

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Curious how much people in here saying this game is in poor taste have allowed for critical discussion over games like Shadow of War and South Park. This culture allows so much to go unchecked in big games, I'm not really seeing the problem with a contemplative take on funerals.

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Hornet

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So Abby mentioned there was a part where you had to choose whether to go with the wishes of the will and cremate, or go with the family and do an open casket...

From personal experience, you can do both. You can have a traditional funeral, and then instead of a burial afterward, they're cremated.

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TwoLines

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Edited By TwoLines

@dancinguy said:

This seems really bad taste. I'm not entirely sure this game needed to exist

As a person that has lost some significant people in my life, I would have loved to have had this game in the past. It would maybe have helped me in dealing with it all. Especially since I was afraid to go to the mortuary and identify the body, so I stayed home, and only my brother went. I shouldn't have been scared.

Yes, in some ways it's a bit cartoony, but it does so to not glorify the morbid aspects of being a mortician.

So, I'm very glad this exists. Hopefully, someday we will see more of its kind.

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Grog

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Edited By Grog

@ybbaaabby / @vinny Not sure if somebody already pointed this out or it's been fixed after this was recorded, but it looks like the captured PC footage is back to being on limited dynamic range again (pure black is grey, muted colours, etc.).

(I know Vinny's away, just thought to include him in case somebody's checking both accounts.)

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dasakamov

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Edited By dasakamov

Specifically in the context of living in the US, there is a very strong aversion to talking about end-of-life, and numerous sociological studies have suggested that this fear of discussion makes the inevitable passing of loved ones *much* harder for surviving friends and family - partly because when you're afraid to think of it, it seems much more unexpected and unfair when it occurs. Good on the developers to make this topic a bit more publically acceptable.

As an aside, I've had the pleasure of meeting and befriending local a Funeral Director (quite by chance), and without question he is one of the kindest, most genuinely gentle souls I've known in my life. Out of context, we can throw our gands in the air and rage "rarrrgh Big Death is just out to leech families out of their money", but in practice, that is (fortunately) unequivocally false.

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telliot

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Wow, even watching them play this game was a lot to handle. The dialogue of folks chatting at the service seemed to really mirror conversations I've heard and had with friends and family who were dealing with a death. My eyes were welling up as I watched this and while I'm glad that it exists I know this isn't something I could emotionally handle.

I have to imagine that pouring time and energy into making an experience like this was taxing on the developers. Props to them for choosing to tackle such a serious subject in a medium that rarely treats serious subjects with the weight and respect they need.

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Blackout62

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Edited By Blackout62

Somber yet also fundamentally seems like a game version of the opening of Bernie.

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StoutLager

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Hey fun facts about donating your corpse for organ donation or research: I went through the whole paperwork (there's not much, it's like one form) to set this up several years ago and learned some interesting things. First, it's not a half and half kinda thing; you either donate whole corpse for research or you be an organ donor, one or the other. You may be able to set it up like, I want to be an organ donor if possible but if circumstances prevent that then I'll go the cadaver route, I'm not sure.

Anyway, I chose the organ donation route. You can actually select which organs you want to donate specifically if you like. Alternately you can just say take whatever is needed.

It says "DONOR" with a heart next to it on my driver's license now. I thought that was pretty neat.

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hippie_genocide

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Most purple game of 2017.

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imtall

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Very interesting. I actually work at a pet crematory and cemetery, and this has a similar tone. I'm glad they are exploring topics outside the norm, gaming needs more of that.

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AssInAss

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@spindini said:

Wow. Are they running out of ideas. This looks pretty awful. Maybe I just don't get it.

This seems really bad taste. I'm not entirely sure this game needed to exist

These kind of responses assume that videogames are not art. If films and tv shows and books and music and art can deal with these topics, so can videogames. No matter the level of execution. A Mortician's Tale is getting positive reviews and broaches an important subject, so I'm glad for this game to exist.

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fatalbanana

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Edited By fatalbanana
@spindini said:

Wow. Are they running out of ideas. This looks pretty awful. Maybe I just don't get it.

This seems really bad taste. I'm not entirely sure this game needed to exist

Would you be willing to go into more detail about why you think this is "awful" or "in bad taste"?

I get that the subject matter is morbid and not for everyone but there isn't anything I saw that was morally reprehensible here.

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moderateTrouble

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I really like the premise of this game. Absolutely going to check it out myself. My family's worked in the nursing home business for years so I grew up with awareness that life ends. A lot of what I've seen from this game so far (esp. the emails from living family members) lines up with the experiences I've seen & had.

I'm glad this game exists. People like Caitlin Doughty have written extensively on the topic, but death feels very taboo in western culture. I wish it was something people dealt with more, both because it makes peoples passing (when it eventually happens) a LOT easier and because it would help break down stigma against people like the elderly, who are often times cast aside by society because of our fear of getting old, sick and dying.

Anyway, that was rambling, but I'm really really glad they did a quick look of this game. Going to play it as soon as I finish my exams this week.

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hassun

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It's a shame that the game is so short and limited. Feels like it had a lot more potential.

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MutenMiller

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Edited By MutenMiller

Thanks for the warning in the Video Notes guys. Maybe I'll come back to this one when things are less... raw for my family and I. :)

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PENT001

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This is an interesting looking game. Not sure it is something I want to play but respect what it is trying to do. The London Pathology museum mentioned several times in the 'emails' is actually a real place, well worth a visit on its occasional open days.

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vodsel

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@assinass said:
@spindini said:

Wow. Are they running out of ideas. This looks pretty awful. Maybe I just don't get it.

@dancinguy said:

This seems really bad taste. I'm not entirely sure this game needed to exist

These kind of responses assume that videogames are not art. If films and tv shows and books and music and art can deal with these topics, so can videogames. No matter the level of execution. A Mortician's Tale is getting positive reviews and broaches an important subject, so I'm glad for this game to exist.

Those posts hardly said anything. The most pretentious thing here is your instinct to defend games as art. No one mentioned art, no one said it couldn't be art.

Game looks boring, but if it informs people about some death-politics then that's cool. I won't buy it or play it.

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vampire_chibi

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15euros think i'll skip, seems like a small phone game.

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OldeBlueEyes

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@alavapenguin: Awesome perspective that you shared there, thanks duder!

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hybrid_aries

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Thanks for doing this quick look. The game is very out of the ordinary and I’m glad it got covered, otherwise I probably would’ve never known it existed. Very interesting and I’m glad that games like this are getting covered. Great job Abby and Alex!

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jpmcosta

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Edited By jpmcosta

I watch some streamers who read everything out loud and it helps a lot to follow the action. In think this game needed that to feel a little less boring.

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Phos

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The design of the interactive parts make it seem like the subjects should be horrible bootleg disney characters.

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pastor_richards

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Man, this music is fantastic!

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bathala

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Edited By bathala

I like the music. Also learned something

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RockaRolla

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Vesme

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Thanks for reviewing this, Abby and Alex. I saw it on Steam and thought it looked good, so I appreciate seeing some gameplay.

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AssInAss

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Finished this, really liked how insightful it was on the funeral industry and how inclusive it was. Repetitive gameplay but that kind of worked to sell the mundanity of such a job.

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JJWeatherman

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Edited By JJWeatherman

Hey fun facts about donating your corpse for organ donation or research: I went through the whole paperwork (there's not much, it's like one form) to set this up several years ago and learned some interesting things. First, it's not a half and half kinda thing; you either donate whole corpse for research or you be an organ donor, one or the other. You may be able to set it up like, I want to be an organ donor if possible but if circumstances prevent that then I'll go the cadaver route, I'm not sure.

Anyway, I chose the organ donation route. You can actually select which organs you want to donate specifically if you like. Alternately you can just say take whatever is needed.

It says "DONOR" with a heart next to it on my driver's license now. I thought that was pretty neat.

I just renewed my license, so this was on my mind recently, but yeah, in Oregon you literally just tick a box on the application/renewal form and boom, you're a donor.

I also recently read an article about how research on dead bodies is largely unregulated and ends up being a little sketchy. Being a donor seems like the way to go.

This is maybe the weirdest comment I've made on a video game website.