Morris Lupton is not like any main character I have played before. Just because he’s dead (because if you think about it, a surprising number of video game characters have died), it’s his voice. Played by David Shaughnessy – whose velvety English West Country tones are quite unusual for any game character other than “ fantasy yokel ” – Morris’s voice is your vehicle through the short story of I Am Dead, a narrator. who basically knows as much as you do. given time. He’s charming enough to become an absolute delight, floating through the plot on a cloud of good vibes and slight confusion, never really knowing what’s going on. In a way, Morris is the bizarre reflection of decades of amnesiac antiheroes in video games – he’s too on a quest to find out what’s really going on here, maybe even to save the world (or at least one part of it). Except instead of a false motive for revenge, he’s doing it because he was a curious former museum owner who is quite surprised to find out that there is an afterlife, and his dead dog tells him now to do things. And Morris is I’m Dead in the Microcosm – a game as mellow and warm as its hero’s horsemen (British parlance is very intended), and just as interested in aimless wandering as it is in the business side of its story. But, again like Morris, there is also a layer of deep intelligence just beneath his warm exterior. I Am Dead Screenshots The heart of I Am Dead is the idea of ”slicing”. Morris, who died offscreen, reappears on his fictional North Atlantic island, Shelmerston’s home, in the form of an invisible ghost. In no time, his spectral dog, Sparky, tells him that the sleeping volcano on the island is about to erupt and that he must convince another ghost to become the spirit of the island and hold back the disaster – he just needs to locate them first. He might be unable to interact directly with the world, but Morris can now examine everything in it in minute detail, normally impossible. The clipping is the representation of this detail – you can zoom in on locations, then zoom in on items in those locations, then physically zoom inside those items. Think of it like those times in LA Noire where you spin an object in your hand looking for clues, except now Detective Phelps can plunge his eyes straight through the molecular structure of those objects. As you take turns traveling through several brightly colored areas of the island – from the lighthouse turned yoga retreat to the motley cluster of ships that fill its harbor – you can cut out hundreds of individual items. Some are unimportant, but beautiful: dull rocks reveal beautiful internal crystal patterns, a ship’s computer shows intricate circuitry, a toilet tank contains a stowaway lobster. Others feel more evocative of stories to tell: a pocket holds a memory of a long-lost friend, a bush with a shovel stuck inside might hide secrets below ground level, the spirit of ‘a person reveals his memories. Slicing becomes the heart of virtually every interaction you have with the world of I Am Dead, and it’s deeply pleasurable, providing a feeling of constantly being on the verge of finding another secret. It’s a truly charming, warm but rarely tweeted story, and with more than a little to say about death, love, and the meaning of home. Primarily, this mechanic results in a treasure hunt. At each step, you are given a (very dead) individual to know. You do this by finding living residents of Shelmerston who knew them and browsing through their memories to discover items that might have been important to them in the past – a Veteran’s War Medal, an old coin – then by researching these items in the today. Some of these will be exactly where you are told they were, and others may have moved in the intervening years, requiring a combination of light deduction and ghost magic to find them. Find five of these items and you can summon and talk to your ghost comrade. With that done, you’ll move on to the next, as Morris interviews the island’s deceased population to find a suitable candidate and learns more about Shelmerston’s history. It guides you through a truly charming, warm but rarely tweeted story, and with more than a little to say about death, love, and the meaning of home. Everything is very elegant and extremely easy. Those with memories of the dead are clearly marked, and there’s no puzzle figuring out what items you need. Each set of memories is a story told in what amounts to a series of comic book panels, which must be deciphered by simply holding the right arrow key until the image becomes clear. The item in question is always highlighted to show you what’s next on the list. Once it’s over, the scavenger hunt itself still takes place in the small area immediately surrounding the person you witnessed from memory, meaning there is very little room for items. hidden. I can’t claim that in the later stages of I Am Dead, I wasn’t yearning for a little more of all of this – whether it was a more enigmatic set of memories or a multi-stage quest that introduced me to several. elements to lead me to the last. In a game world littered with not only crawl spaces, but crawlable items, it’s slightly weird that you aren’t invited to, you know, explore a lot to get through it. That’s not to say I’m Dead doesn’t offer challenges beyond the main story, though. The second objective of any area is to hunt down the Grenkins – the island spirits who are freed by finding an object which, when sliced at a certain angle, matches a given pattern. It’s a little hard to explain without a visual aid, so here’s a gif to show you what I mean: Grenkins offers a bit more interaction with this basic slicing mechanic – and with dozens to find in Shelmerston, they certainly outnumber the core story puzzles – but they’re still tied to a small, explicitly marked location and can often be solved by accident. More than once I have sliced an object just to check it out and accidentally solved a Grenkin puzzle along the way. But there’s another challenge in the intangible sleeves of I Am Dead, and his name is Mr. Whitstable. Whitstable is a cackling Scottish goat clown who appears when you find specific posters in each area. These posters are covered in what Mr. Whitstable repeatedly calls puzzles, but are likely closer to cryptic clues, each slyly pointing to an item hidden in the wider world. They are arguably the most difficult element of play that I Am Dead has to offer, each requiring you to find (sometimes deep down) camouflaged objects somewhere throughout the level you’re in, in a short period of time. They were by far the most pleasantly touchy aspect of I Am Dead for me, but are definitely a side quest, rewarded with very little more than a few limited voice lines and, admittedly, a pleasantly odd end result. Separating the main story and these more difficult challenges seems to me to be a compromise on the part of developer Hollow Ponds, an attempt to offer both an easy going narrative and something for those who want to be tested, so that both sides could maybe be more satisfied. by combining them. But, to be fair, there’s more here than just a start-to-finish story and the mechanics that keep it going. The creators of I Am Dead, Richard Hogg and Ricky Haggett have already helped in the birth of Hohokum, the PlayStation exclusive on … well, it’s hard to say what Hohokum is in itself, but it certainly involved some to be some kind of cosmic sperm helping people in abstract landscapes. I Am Dead is more traditionally “ game-y ” than Hohokum – it has a defined storyline, a traditional world map, well-defined objectives, and clearly explained mechanics – but it shares a fun of relaxed, aimless exploration. . For every player keen on taking on one more challenge, there will be one more who will be happy to simply float through the sea-flooded shops of Shelmerston Harbor, peering inside their less-traveled corners simply. to see if the shopkeeper is hiding alcohol in his cupboards, or if there is something hidden in the trash heap. There are surprises everywhere, aided by a slight surreality that sees the extremely British setting sharing space with a talking breed of fishermen, a famous artist with an apple for a head and a recurring subplot about smuggling whiskey. Take a good enough look around you and you’ll find that there are other stories that appear alongside the one you help unravel Morris, told through the scenes you explore along the way. Like the slicing mechanic itself, the deeper you look, the more interesting I Am Dead tends to get. You will probably already know if this type of freer experience will appeal to you. Some will rush into the four-hour story and feel like they’ve had it down. For me, I loved the feeling of being rewarded with extra knowledge, a story, and some good old-fashioned jokes just to be curious. It doesn’t mean that I stopped wishing for more of the traditional gameplay at the heart of I Am Dead, but being offered a competing interest made that much less of a problem.