A Ghost of a Tale
Coming to terms with someone’s passing is always difficult, even if you weren’t that close to them. We grieve for celebrities, distant relatives, and friends of friends, reminded of our own mortality. This is particularly true when our classmates from school or college die an untimely death, which is the premise of Corinne Cross’s Dead & Breakfast.
After picking up the game as part of the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, the cute, hand-drawn art style of Dead & Breakfast caught my eye, so I decided to give it a try. The story follows Corinne Cross, a young 20-something, who ends up housesitting for the mother of a high school friend after he passes away. His mother, unfortunately, ends up in the hospital, leaving Corinne all alone in the former bed and breakfast. Or is she? As the game’s title suggests, Corinne is actually a medium with the ability to see ghosts, and she finds four otherworldly visitors in the house to keep her company, as well as frequent visits from nosy next-door neighbor and former funeral director, Hermina.
Each ghost – Alex, Shoes, Zara, and Gale – has their own story and their own reason for sticking around on the mortal plane. It’s Corinne’s job to help find out what’s keeping them there. While none of the stories are happy, each ghost’s tale has both good and bad endings. The one that choked me up the most was Gale, the former friend of Corinne whose death kicks things off. While all stories are presented as complete and satisfying in their first run, New Game + mode offers additional scenes and tidbits to make them feel truly whole.
There’s not much challenge to Dead & Breakfast, and only one mini-game, resulting in a playthrough taking around one hour. However, it feels like so much more. I looked up at the end, unable to quit even as it stretched to 3 am, completely confused that it wasn’t later. Corinne and her friends grab you by the heartstrings and just won’t let go. It’s relatable to anyone who’s ever had a loved one sick in the hospital, for anyone who’s ever had a friend die, for anyone who’s ever been wondering “What if?” over missed chances and lost opportunities. It’s a cathartic experience.
The art for Dead & Breakfast is all hand-drawn and simple, with textured colors and easy animations. It’s an interesting, anime-esque style, with wonderfully expressive characters and a beautiful, quaint world for them to inhabit. It’s bright and peaceful and helps to convey the message of the story by framing it perfectly.
Part of the reason why Dead & Breakfast took on such a personal connection to me is that, like Corinne, a high school friend of mine passed away a few months before I sat down to play. It felt like I never really had time to mourn, let alone know how to, and Corinne’s journey ended up being a very cathartic experience. It has enough sweet in its bittersweet tone to be uplifting and hopeful, and I came away from it feeling more at peace with my friend’s death than I had been before.
Corinne Cross’s Dead & Breakfast is a great game, though also a short one. Playing all the way through on New Game + is also recommended, as the extra tidbits are extra sweet and it helps to make the experience last longer. For anyone looking for help getting past a loss, it’s no substitute for therapy, but it can help you deal.
TechRaptor reviewed Corinne Cross's Dead & Breakfast on PC via itch.io with a copy purchased by the reviewer.