Very few games, both past and present, have been able to truly capture human emotion.
And even then, most don’t tread too far. Emotion in a video game has the literal ability to make or break characters if they aren’t portrayed correctly. The lack of the slightest detail can create a awkward laughable characters, or even crumble an entire world at the snap of a finger. Tumbling Apart, an independent game from GoodNameHere_, doesn’t just try to tell another story. It exposes a man down to the core, breaks him down to his weakest, and shows how far he would go to bring it all back. Note: The Demo will be discussed in length here, revealing many of the key moments. If you would wish to experience the demo yourself, you can find it here: GoodNameHere_.
Standing on an unknown beach, Isaac is lost in thought, mulling over his guilt before being awoken to the storm outside his window. Shaken from the surrealism, sharing his dream with his sister is the only logical next step. Bedridden, Kenna suffers from a not yet revealed sickness. After the loss of their parents, Isaac, suffering from severe depression and alcoholism, has given everything he can to ensure that she is comfortable and happy. This relationship is expressed through simple dialogue, yet shows the extreme strength in the bond between the two. After retrieving her medicine, she is found on the floor, ghostly white and weak. In a panicked frenzy, Isaac rushes her to the hospital. Never ending, the hallways almost mock Isaac, reminding him of what once was as his very world crashes around him.
The autumn leaves are beautiful. Gradients of golden red, the season’s appropriate, yet somehow a stark contrast to the funeral. A beauty in death itself. Leaving his final words with Kenna, Isaac visits his mother’s grave. Unremembering of his mother, he places a family polaroid at her grave. The moment it touches the ground, a crack happens in the distance. A previously destroyed tree mysteriously, opening the path to an even more mysterious door in the middle of nowhere. Entering the door, time itself seems to stop and move backwards all at once. With nothing but a light guiding him, the demo ends as he finds his way back to his sister’s grave.
The house is simply designed, consisting of only a few rooms. Many of the items can be inspected for backstory into Isaac’s life, and help fill in the world a little more around him. Although brief, there are elements of basic puzzles, which will hopefully be seen and built upon later. In this case, finding the password to Kenna’s medicine was found in a photo found along the wall in the hallway. I think the only issue I really found dealt more with navigation. A few of the doors are vertical to the screen, making it hard to notice with this particular choice of graphics. It didn’t stop me from playing, but I did get held up for a moment, not understanding where I was supposed to go next. I do also wish the demo were at least a few minutes longer. The point of the game focus’ on Isaac, yet a part of me had to know more about what the mysterious voice was at the end of the demo, and how it would affect his life.
In the 20 minutes I played, Tumbling apart has so much loss crammed into it, it’s difficult to not feel anything but sympathy for Isaac. His sister is frail, requiring constant attention, yet he’s greeted by a Hospice DNR order every time he enters her room. The abundance of alcohol at the foot of his bed, the living room, and crammed under the couch, show his unhealthy dependence, and his only answer to cope. Unwilling to go outside, and the clutter found throughout each of the rooms, only reinforce the severe depression he is trying to handle from day to day only then made worse by the loss of his sister. As strong as the demo was, it shows that GoodNameHere_ knows what they are doing. It leaves me both hopeful and worried for what can only come next for Isaac.
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