Short, sharp, and simple.
Developer Viperante is working on an anthology of point-and-click adventure games, each one is a short self-contained story that shares themes and mechanics with the rest.
The Death of Erin Myers is the first of five games in the Short Story Series, in which players discover why the title character died and the circumstances surrounding her death.
The basis of the game comprises a series of seminal moments in Myers’ life – nine junctures in total. These moments include her at different ages and strange dreams she’s had throughout her life. So there’s essentially nine levels but the player won’t experience these in chronological order as the game employs a nonlinear narrative told from her perspective.
The game adheres to tropes in the 2D point-and-click puzzle genre: scan the environment for things to examine, pick up items, combine said items if necessary, and use them on environmental objects to get past obstacles in order to progress through the story.
The theme here is in the name of the game and the art style does a good job of reinforcing the macabre feeling that comes with acknowledging the ultimate aim: to discover why someone is no longer alive. The player knows the game doesn’t end well.
There’s a decaying look to the locales and although most are dank-looking and dimly lit, the use of different hues make the settings distinguishable and atmospheric.
Non-playable characters are used sparingly and some scenes don’t feature any at all. Certain scenes in the police station, for example, could have been a bit more populated even if people were just used as backdrop, but this is only a minor gripe.
The choice of music for the game’s soundtrack is suitably moody and nightmarish when it needs to be, and conversely sombre in moments of self-reflection. From emotional piano pieces, to ambient synth tracks and orchestral-guitar compositions, the music always suits the tone of the memory and does a good job of complementing and building the overall gameplay experience.
Examining things won’t just provide a description of what the player’s clicked on, in some instances it will also offer insights into Myers’ thoughts and feelings. The Death of Erin Myers is a short game and these extra bits of expositions help build a larger picture of where she’s coming from and are highly recommended (not just by the game).
There’s not really a difficulty curve to the puzzles – their complexity remain consistently simple throughout the game. Perhaps near the final third of the game there’s a moment or two where more trial and error is required but not any increase that’s significant.
During the course of the game, Myers’ character arc can be broken down into three stages. So that things don’t get spoiled, we’ll briefly describe them as: feeling sympathy for the character, seeing the anger in her, and finally knowing that she’s trying to make changes.
What’s mildly disappointing is the game progresses too quickly for anything to truly get fleshed out. There’s only so much backstory and development that can be explored in a short game such as this. It’s difficult for the player to feel empathy for someone whose life and actions are only seen in bursts.
Since there’s no voice-overs, the in-game text has to be even more substantive, not only in dialogue but expositions too. It would have been nice if the game had more internal monologues and clickable items that triggered memories and conversation, etc.
There’s a moment when the player uses Myers’ mobile phone though in a limited capacity. This could have been expanded on, even just slightly through the use of emails, text messages, and phone calls.
As it stands, The Death of Erin Myers is a bite-sized narrative-driven point-and-click puzzle game that hits the hardest with its story about pain, trust, and consequences. The puzzles aren’t taxing and the supporting characters are just about serviceable, but the plot points and overall presentation should appeal to fans of the genre who are after something relatively quick.
When the game is over, it leaves a sense of wanting more – a result of it being short but interesting. Viperante has laid the first stone in its Short Story Series and the anthology is off to a promising start. There are things to tighten up but the series is one to keep an eye on.
Game title: The Death of Erin Myers
Genre(s): Point and click, Adventure
Release date: 26th April, 2019
Available for: Windows
Platform reviewed: Windows
Viperante supplied Gaming Audio News with a copy of The Death of Erin Myers which was used for this review.