A Mortician’s Tale Game Review

Charlie is a mortician recently employed by a mom and pop funeral home. Follow her daily activities, learn about the families she meets, and follow her monthly newsletter for diverse discussions about death. A Mortician’s Tale is a short story-focused game with a refreshing view of death in video games.

Format: PC via Steam
First playthrough time: 1.25 hours

Charlie guides a coffin into the cremator
Released October 18th, 2017 by Laundry Bear Games

Quick Overview

Major Pros:

  • Refreshing view of death
  • Interesting details on body prep
Major Cons:

  • Simple gameplay with no challenge
Minor Pros:

  • Fun minigame
  • Somber music and theme
  • Interesting side characters
Minor Cons:

  • I wanted more of the diverse funeral practices discussed
Charlie filling an urn. Instructions say click and drag the bone fragments and drop them into the top of the cremulator.
Bodies are either buried or cremated

In-depth Review

A Mortician’s Tale follows the story of Charlie, a new mortician working at a small funeral home. Players follow through a sampling of her days across about a year. Most of the story comes through emails she receives from coworkers, her best friend, and a monthly newsletter about death practices. The additional story comes from listening to the families of the deceased at the funerals. Charlie herself is a silent character with limited personality, but the other characters become reasonably fleshed out for the length of the game. I enjoyed the diversity of the recurring cast and felt the game did a good job of making the player hate characters they were supposed to.

An email from Amy Rose to Charlie to about her office and the various stations.
Most of the story comes from emails

Gameplay in A Mortician’s Tale focuses on three main aspects: first is reading the email for what kind of preparation the family wants, next is preparing the bodies, and lastly is attending the funeral. The game guides players through preparing the bodies, so it’s impossible to mess up. Funerals involve walking over to characters and listening to their dialog. The scene can be completed after paying respects at the coffin or urn, so players can skip the dialog if they want.

Charlie attending a funeral. One of the attendees is saying: Came out of nowhere. I mean, it always sorta does, doesn't it?
Charlie can listen to dialog from the families at funerals

Preparing the bodies was probably the most interesting part to me, but it took a back seat to reading dialog and emails. Players grossed out by removing fluids from bodies are not advised to partake. I’d have liked more interaction in this area and more of a challenge to remembering what procedures families wanted and how to perform them.

Charlie using the embalming machine. Instructions say: in order to evenly distribute the chemicals, you'll have to massage them through the body. Click and drag over the body to massage it.
Preparing a body may not be for the squeamish

Toward the middle of A Mortician’s Tale, Charlie’s best friend challenges the player to a minigame called Tales of the Crypt. It’s essentially Minesweeper but all the numbers are replaced with random symbols on each restart. So, in addition to the regular Minesweeper rules, the player must also figure out and memorize what the symbols mean for each round. I certainly spent a good chunk of time on this and enjoyed it, although there’s no in-game reward for beating it.

A partially completed Tales from the Crypts game.
Tales from the Crypts gameplay!

A Mortician’s Tale covers a lot of topics around death. The regular newsletter Charlie receives shares information on everything from DOs and DON’Ts at funerals to LGBTQ issues around death and non-western death practices. I thought these pieces of information were cool, but considering the inclusion of these topics, I wish they’d been included in some of the funerals Charlie attends.

An attendee at a funeral saying: yeah. after all this, let's see what we can do to help them. Shouldn't deal with the death of their partner all by themselves.
One of the more diverse families Charlie encounters

Recommendation

Overall, I enjoyed A Mortician’s Tale and its refreshing view on death. The gameplay was simple and short, but interesting and I liked the characters (except the ones I wasn’t supposed to like). I’d have preferred more depth to the body preparation and more cultural diversity in the funerals, but I was happy with the discussion of diverse topics around death. I recommend A Mortician’s Tale to players interested in a slight glimpse into the workings of a funeral home who aren’t too squeamish.

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