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A Mortician's Tale explores the poignant - and mundane - realities of death

A Mortician's Tale explores the poignant - and mundane - realities of death
From CBC - October 22, 2017

Charlie starts her work day like many others do. She checks her emails for today's tasks from her supervisor, reads up on the latest industry news, and corresponds with her friend from school who is now working overseas.

It's an unremarkable morning routine, except for the dead man's body sitting on a table next to her.

As a morticianworking at the Rose and Daughters funeral parlour, it's her job to clean and prepare dead bodies for funerals, as well as meet with the deceased's friends and family members.

And since Charlie (Charlotte) is the main character in a video game, it'syour job too.

A Mortician's Tale, by Toronto-based indie team Laundry Bear, deals with death in ways decidedly unlike most action-packed video games that often dominate the public consciousness.

Embalmingbodies, consoling bereaved

Running approximately an hour long, A Mortician's Tale is not especially difficult or challenging unless the subject matter makes you queasy.

Each day you are assigned to prepare a corpse for an upcoming funeral.

For open-casket funerals, bodies must be cleaned and shaven. Eye caps have to be inserted underneath the body's eyelids, since eyeballs deflate after death. You will drag the mouse cursor over the body to massage it, breaking rigor mortis, before making a small incision in the upper right shoulder to insert a tube to inject embalming liquid.

Cremation is a simpler affair, preparing bodies for the incinerator and then placing leftover bones in the cremulator, blending them into a fine powder and depositing them into an urn as though operating a morbid coffee grinder.

The game's simple animated style and palette of purple tones help offset the grisly nature of your work.

Eventually, as Charlie rolls up her sleeves to clean and embalm yet another corpse, what once might seem eerie to players becomes routine, just like any other day job.

After that, you will greet friends of family of the deceased during the wake, listening to some of their conversations.

Some are overcome with grief, while others are more reflective. One day, anattendee tells her friend thatat Chinesefunerals white, not black, is the traditional colour of mourning. At another, a woman laments the last argument she had with her mother, who died of breast cancer, before being consoled by her father.

Over the course of the game, Charlie has to deal with her own challenges, as Rose and Daughtersan independent, "mom-and-pop funeral home"is eventually bought by Hillside Heritage Enterprises, a large corporationmore concerned with maximizing profits than consoling the bereaved.

Real life (and death) stories

'Allthe research that we had done, all those experiences we had working on AMortician's Tale, allowed me to give my mom a good death.' - Gabby DaRienzo, game designer and artist

Death-positive movement

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