I Am Dead Review
It’s an age-old question, what becomes of us after we die. It’s not an easy subject to speak about whether it be for those who have had to deal with it personally to different religious views on the matter. But in my experience, I’ve always found it fascinating to hear about other people’s opinions on the subject. Hollow Ponds’ latest title, I Am Dead, lightly explores the possibility of what may happen after we pass on this particular island, and boy, was it ever an incredibly delightful story told with so much care and detail.
A Man and His Dog
Despite the name being, I Am Dead, the narrative isn’t nearly as dark as one may think. We follow the story of the recently passed Morris Lupton, the old museum curator of the fictional island, Shelmerston. As he’s adjusting to his new, ghostly life, he’s soon reunited with his dear old dog, Sparky, which to his surprise, can speak. But there’s no time to be wasted — the once dormant volcano that resides on the island is threatened to erupt if a new custodian isn’t found soon, as the energy of the current one is beginning to wane. As the sweet, selfless man that he is, Morris volunteers to be the custodian himself but according to a ghost protocol, he doesn’t quite fill the requirements as he’s only recently deceased. So with this, Morris and his trusted friend Sparky are off to find and persuade one of the candidates more suitable for the task.
In order to persuade one of these prospects, players will travel to different locations where they’ll need to locate five different objects that were once dear to that particular ghost. In order to do this, you’ll have to use Morris’ unique ability of X-Ray vision to see through and break down objects in the real world, such as viewing a lunch box to find a Rubix cube to finding a golf tee within one of the pockets of a standing golf bag. But before we find out what items we have to search for, you’ll have to dive into the memories of the people who were once close to that particular ghost to find the clue of the object we have to locate. When you’ve found a person with a speech bubble above their heads, Morris can take a look within to listen to the story and relationship that person had with our candidate. In order to progress the story within these memories, players will have to turn a coin-like object with the ZL and ZR buttons to rotate it to the right angle so that the water-like lines eventually form a picture. While some of the objects are very easy to find, some of the objects are a bit trickier. But I never felt let down if I found a clue fast, as I just wanted to know more about the lovely island life of the residents and the ghosts we are trying to speak with.
On top of finding the mementoes for our prospective ghosts, you’ll also have to find Grenkins — little island spirits. Sparky will let you know when you’re close to one and when you’ve found the item, you’ll have to use Morris’ X-Ray vision to break down and angle the item in a specific way according to a little map provided for you. I found that finding some of the Grenkins were a bit more difficult, but luckily the Switch’s rumble system will let you know when you are getting close to solving the puzzle. And to give us a bit more of a challenge, we’ll eventually be given riddles by a laughing Giraffe named Mr. Whistable. These are time-sensitive, so make sure you’re ready to solve the riddle when it comes to triggering them. If you’re bad at riddles as I am, you’ll be glad to know these are optional quests that aren’t required to progress the story.
A Harmonious Story
Working as one part visual novel and one part puzzle game, I Am Dead is able to use and execute the two genres and blend them into a harmonious story. Following Morris and Sparky’s adventure and listening to the stories told from the memories we find is incredibly endearing. The voice acting is exceptionally done and done with such passion that I was smiling from ear to ear during my playthrough. Not to mention that the art style is bright and fun and overall just feels very welcoming. The style is cartoony and unique but it breathes such life to this story. Aside from finding some of the mementos feeling a bit repetitive at times, everything about this game just works so very well together.
Despite the dark undertones, one might assume a game with the title of I Am Dead has, I certainly felt anything but. The narrative pulls you in immediately. The heartwarming stories you’ll discover are just as great. I didn’t want it to end. Even though I didn’t rush through it, I wish I had spent more time taking in the gorgeous scenery and story. Lately, it seems as though the world is on fire, so why not take some time to pick this up and let Morris and Sparky’s delightful adventure take you for a ride?
***Nintendo Switch review code provided by the publisher.***
- Vibrant and welcoming art style
- Phenomenal voice acting
- Charming puzzles
- X-Ray Vision is always fun!
- Most puzzles are very easy to solve
- Gameplay can become a bit repetitive