Games try to tackle the themes of life and death all the time. While there's always going to be varying degrees of success, it's not often that a game has been able to address the celebration of life, through death, quite like I Am Dead. At first glance, it looks like this would be nothing more than another whimsical point and click adventure. But almost immediately into the game's first act, it's clear that I Am Dead is much more than another puzzle adventure.
I Am Dead is a point and click adventure where you assume the role of the recently deceased Morris Lupton and, sometimes, his dog Sparky. The game's plot is pretty bare-bones. You are tasked with finding a spirit to take over as the island's guardian or else a volcano will blow and make a whole lot of ghosts.
While that doesn’t come off as a ringing endorsement of I Am Dead, it's the interactions between characters and the little stories told throughout the game's environment that make this game so memorable. From the simple gameplay loop of replaying somebody's memories about a dead lover, to the untouched rooms and environments of the deceased, every inch of I Am Dead is packed with little details that bring the world to life in ways very few games can.
The gameplay loop in I Am Dead is simple. You visit a section of the island, jump into people's memories, and re-live their favorite moments with a loved one. This will lead to the discovery of a prized possession that can help bring a spirit back to “life.” Do this a few times and Morris’ dog Sparky will take over and bark at spirit fragments to herd them into the ghost you’ve been working to bring back.
While listening to a character's story about the deceased, you’re tasked with forming the picture in their head until it's clear. After they finish their story you then need to use context clues to find the prized possession in their environment. You can do this by scanning around (or flying I guess) and clipping through objects to find items hidden inside boxes, statues, and even animals.
I found myself doing this through everything possible even if there wasn’t anything of substance to find. The game's attention to detail is so beyond most contemporary video games, that you can find hundreds of small stories by just looking around and paying attention. There are also hidden creatures called Grenkins that provide a bit more of a challenge to find, but it's not overly difficult to locate them once you get used to the game's mechanics. If you’re looking for a challenging puzzle game or the next great walking simulator, you’re definitely not going to find it here.
There’s a detachment in I Am Dead’s main theme that really separates itself from most games that deal with the subject matter of life and death. Unlike the dread and anguish presented in games like The Last of Us Part II, I Am Dead is a celebration of life, our loved ones, and the little moments in between. Throughout I Am Dead there was never a point where the game's protagonist, Morris, feels sad or resentful that he is, in fact, dead. While the game does have its heavier moments, I never got the feeling that I Am Dead was meant to be seen as anything but a positive look into life after death.
I Am Dead Review | Final Thoughts
I Am Dead is a wonderful point and click adventure that expertly tackles one of the most mishandled themes in entertainment. While the overall gameplay loop isn’t going to be seen as challenging, the story, its expertly detailed world, and general presentation make I Am Dead one of the 2020’s must play indie titles. If you’re looking for something a little different, I Am Dead may be just the right thing.
TechRaptor reviewed I Am Dead on Switch using a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on PC and Nintendo Switch.
- Excellent Environmental Storytelling
- Unique Visual Aesthetic
- Easy Puzzle Point and Click Gameplay
- Hyper Detailed Word Compliments Overall Narrative
- Movement Takes a Little Getting Used To
- Puzzles May be too Easy for Some