I Am Dead Review – Staying Alive

It's common in games for death to go unexplored. When it's not used as a narrative device to motivate living characters, it's brushed aside as collateral for a game's mechanics, with few interrogating the effects of your actions. I Am Dead...

I Am Dead Review – Staying Alive

It's common in games for death to go unexplored. When it's not used as a narrative device to motivate living characters, it's brushed aside as collateral for a game's mechanics, with few interrogating the effects of your actions. I Am Dead is nothing like that. Not only do you play as a recently deceased protagonist, but its warm and welcoming tale explores themes of what it means to leave a legacy--however big or small--on the people you shared your brief time with while alive.

Playing as former museum curator Morris Lupton and guided by his equally dead pet dog, Sparky, you explore the recent history of the fictional island of Shelmerston in search of a new guardian for the tranquil settlement. The island's dormant volcano is being kept at bay by the waning spirit of a former inhabitant, forcing Lupton to search for a replacement from a handful of other Shelmerston inhabitants that have recently found themselves in the afterlife. With the ability to explore some of the island's picturesque locations and interact with objects in ways unique to your spectral form, you slowly unearth the island's history and touching vignettes of some of its residents.

Before being able to ask a friendly resident ghost if they're up to the task of watching over Shelmerston, you need to first learn about their lasting impact on those who are still alive. This manifests in distinct levels where you explore stories of each character through the lens of those who remember them. The devout followers of a yoga instructor who reside in a repurposed lighthouse recall the calming nature of their late leader, coloring in his complex relationship with past trauma and how it shaped his pursuit for inner peace. Another tale set in the island's bustling port town tells the tale of a blossoming romance between two youths who both discovered more about themselves when apart, which cemented their relationship further when reunited. These stories help introduce you to the would-be caretakers before you get to meet them, giving you all the context you need to understand their decision to either accept or decline the position of island custodian.

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