I Am Dead Review

Explore the small town of Shelmerston, meet the spirits of its past residence, and find tons of collectibles in I Am Dead.

Format: PC via Steam
First playthrough time: 7.5 hours

I Am Dead. A harbor called Old Town showing a number of shops and people along a pier.

Released Oct 8th, 2020 by Hollow Ponds | Richard Hogg | Annapurna Interactive

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Quick Overview

Major Pros:
  • Find lots of collectibles
  • Explore a town and its story
Major Cons:
  • None
Minor Pros:
  • Riddles
Minor Cons:
  • A little formulaic across chapters
I Am Dead. Morris and Sparky discussing the dormant volcano awakening. They don't know how long they have to find a new Custodian and stop the eruption.

Morris, Sparky, and the awakening volcano

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In-Depth Review

I Am Dead is a puzzle adventure game where players lead the friendly ghost of Morris Lupton on a quest to find a spirit that can stop a coming disaster. After being reunited with the spirit of his dog Sparky, Morris learns that the volcano on his island will soon erupt because the old spirit that’s been pacifying it will soon fade away. Desperate to save the charming village he calls home, Morris follows Sparky to find a new spirit to quell the volcano.

I Am Dead. Gkkh's Memory of their introduction to toast. I did not believe it at first - a food which snapps! So dryyyyyy! Then one morning at sun up I followed a ship, and caught a blackened slice as it arced into the water. This was the start of my lifelong love of toast!

Viewing a memory

The main mechanic of I Am Dead focuses on finding momentos to lead the player to a new spirit. There are 6 chapters in the story, each focused on finding a different spirit. To start, players dive into the memories of folks that knew the spirit when they were alive and discover special objects of value to the spirit. The player must then locate those objects in the area, by looking through various 3D spaces and phasing through items to see their contents. After finding all the momentos, the spirit can be located and the story advanced.

I Am Dead. A spliced view of several gears. A strangely shaped blob with legs is indicated as the 5th of  Grenkins found so far.

Aligning cogs to find a Grenkin

If I Am Dead involved only locating the key momentos and progressing the story, the game would be rather short. The bulk of gameplay comes from several collectibles mechanics in the game. The first requires finding copies of certain items hidden in each area. For example, finding all the cats along the pier. These collectibles have the least fanfare and are the easiest to find. The second requires finding ‘Grenkins’. After finding the first story item in each area, the player will be notified when they approach a hidden Grenkin. Grenkins are revealed by selecting the right object and rotating and splicing it according to a provided image. A list of all the Grenkins and what chapter they’re in is provided in-game, but the player cannot travel back to prior areas after completing a chapter.

I Am Dead. A cardboard box containing a seagull and 3 ice cream cones. The seagull is wearing one of the cones as a hat. The text introduces the seagull as Gerry and says he loves a cone or two.

A notable odd seagull…

The third and most complex collectible system is Mr. Whistable’s Riddles. In each chapter, the player will find a poster of some sort with 5 short phrases on it. Somewhere in the level, an object is hidden that corresponds to each of the short phrases. These tend to be more tucked away and the phrases are often a play-on-words to make the objects harder to find. I found it best to explore all the nooks and crannies and try to find items that looked like Easter eggs before looking at the riddle phrases, as opposed to reading the riddles and trying to find what they might refer to. If the player manages to complete all of Mr. Whistables Riddles, he’ll give them a fancy Master of Riddles certificate and sing them a silly song about riddles. Once again, players need to complete these riddles as they go through the game because after completing a chapter they can’t go back.

I Am Dead. Memories of Pete Noach 1956-2013. Pete arrived on Shelmerston to take the job of lighthouse keeper. He led a solitary life for several years, seldom visiting the town and speaking only rarely, before opening the lighthouse as a yoga retreat with the help of a robot called EM.

Learning about the spirit of Pete Noach

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Recommendation

Overall, I enjoyed I Am Dead. I liked exploring the scenes to find objects, especially the riddles. It was nice to get to know the townsfolk and see how their stories and lives overlapped. I thought the story was pretty wholesome and sweet. The mechanics didn’t change across the course of the game, but given the length of the game, this was okay. I recommend I Am Dead to players that like finding objects and exploration, especially if they like getting all the collectibles in a game.

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