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Community Article: Indie Insights - I Am Dead

Written by John Edwards

I'm going to be going for an MRI soon and, much to the surprise of the consultant, I'm really looking forward to it. I know they're very loud and claustrophobic and generally an unpleasant time all round, but it can't dampen my enthusiasm for getting to see inside myself without some sort of horrendous accident. Being able to see layers of people is like some sort of Star Trek technology, or if you're Morris Lupton, it's an aspect of being dead.

Until recently, Morris was the museum curator on the island of Shelmerston, but then he died which is the point that most people retire. He's swiftly reunited with his dog Sparky who predeceased him but now is able to talk and warns Morris that if they don't find a new spirit for the island there's going to be a volcano turning up pretty soon and ruining any chance of a good tourism season.

In order to track down a willing volunteer to avert catastrophe, Morris and Sparky explore the memories island folk have of particular people who have also died. You go about this by examining their thoughts, 'tuning in' different scenes from their lives and finding objects in the memories that are key to their lives. These objects will be found near the person thinking about it and here's where I Am Dead's MRI-like ability comes into play.

You lock onto sections of the world and then zoom in, an invisible wall slices through the objects you're looking at, peeling back layer after layer. Inside you may find more objects to lock onto and look inside. Inside a shop you find a room, in the room a shelf, on the shelf a jar, diving deeper inside each one, a matryoshka of the mundane.

I Am Dead revels in hiding secrets in the most ordinary of places and finding wonder in seeing objects in a way you never normally would. There's a great deal of humour throughout the nooks and crannies you explore around the island as well as ruminations on how people may have lived fulfilling lives and when to move on. The depth in this game isn't limited to plunging through the scenery.

A delightful aspect of I Am Dead is the use of regional British accents, it's rare to hear voices like this in gaming, although Elden Ring seems to be flying the flag for Wales currently. Alongside the accents are some fish people which everyone on the island seem to take in their stride as it becomes clear there's a great deal of oddness in Shelmerston.

On top of trying to find the objects to summon the potential island spirit replacements, Sparky will sniff out Grenkins, peculiar creatures which remind me of the cousins from the Katamari games in their variety. You'll get an image which represents the cross section of something and you need to track it down. The game helps you to finesse it when you get close to the solution so you don't have to worry about being precise, you just need to have a good idea about perspective.

Finally, there are more challenges from a creepy, chuckling spirit who gives you what come across as vaguely cryptic crossword clues and then a limited amount of time to find the solution after clicking on it. These are optional but are useful for adding more of a challenge to what is largely an easy game.

Morris is a kindly soul and an empathic and compassionate guide through life after death. His concern for the museum and joy at being reunited with Sparky is heartwarming. Discovering more about the lives of the people who lived around him, Morris unravels hidden depths both literally and figuratively.