Disclosure ‐ The wonderful people at Bad Chalk provided OK Games with a review code for Corrine Cross's Dead & Breakfast
Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Indie Game Maker Contest, Corinne Cross’s Dead & Breakfast, is a quaint, interactive adventure game by one-woman-band, Bad Chalk Entertainment. You follow Corinne Cross – after the death of a high school acquaintance, Gale – as she travels to housesit a former B&B belonging to Gale’s mother who’s been hospitalised with grief. As the name suggests, there’s a tad more to this B&B than you first think. I mean, the first person you talk to is Hermina, the gothic-looking, next door neighbour, and former funeral director. Oh, and out your back gate is a cemetery. Also, the game is called Dead & Breakfast, but you got it, you know what I mean, you’ve got it.
The game introduces itself as a light adventure, with an energy bar, an indication of what day it is, and how much money you have to spend, so you already know there’ll be tasks involved. However, once you arrive, you’re already spent from the trip so when you head up to bed, you discover a little something about yourself; you can’t sleep through the night for some reason, waking up in darkness all the time. But it gives you a chance of checking your social media platform of choice (instaface, classic!), and you are hit with the usual social media grieving of Gale; an accurate representation of suddenly being everyone’s friend after death, giving a bit more of an insight to whom he was.
Later in the daylight, being given the instructions on how to make yourself some money via a spot of gardening, you begin to notice some irregularities. That potted plant I watered the day before is gone. Where’d this toy car come from? Didn’t I turn the TV off? It plants a bit of an enigma in your mind as you explore the house in a fully rested state. The story then introduces you to new characters and, kind of, what you yourself can do. Everything progresses along smoothly, opening new things to do and adding little tidbits to make the story keep your attention. You’ve only got a week housesitting this place, but you already plan what you’ve got to do the next day, trying to squeeze it all in before the 7 days are up.
I mean, look, it is a very small game with a pretty small price point. It took me around an hour and a half to finish (I know because I recorded 99% of it!) and there’s only so much you can do in each day/night cycle. The story was enough to push me along as it added a little something extra each day to think about, however, as I knew I was getting towards the end, I rushed it. I didn’t plan ahead and ended up disappointing basically all the spectral friends I had made along the way. I wished I’d saved my progress more so I could have undone the choices I had made.
In the end, the story leaves a lovely, warm and fuzzy feeling, despite the themes of, well, death. And whatever curiosity you have over mortality don’t really get answered so if you’re looking for something grizzly, perhaps look elsewhere. The game does a great job of adding replayability too. After you’ve finished the story, it opens up the opportunity to play New Game + which adds harder gameplay, more dialogue options, added scenes, and extra content. From the 10-minutes or so I played afterwards, I could already see a difference in the playthroughs.
“Everything progresses along smoothly, opening new things to do and adding little tidbits to make the story keep your attention.”
The aesthetic of the game is completely charming and cute, being created by Bad Chalk’s extremely talented Cecilia Bishton. The characters are adorable looking, with their overview/dialogue profiles opening up a much more mature looking portrait. The style works really well with the cutesy-ness of the story and setting.
The music also brings something extra, as it’s subtle but adds much to the atmosphere, especially during the night time. However, sometimes it’s lacking completely and as much as you don’t want repetitive background music, it was soft and melodic enough to meld in nicely with the environment.
As for the rest of the stuff that makes up games, the controls were slightly hard to get used to. Probably, mostly because I’m so used to gaming with the WASD keys to move rather than the arrow keys, but having to force myself over to the right side of my keyboard with the exceptions of opening the menu with ‘S’ was a little uncomfortable.
Overall, Corinne Cross’s Dead & Breakfast is a really nice way to spend a couple of hours. While the world is pretty small apart from a couple of tasks each day, you’re opening up a whimsical story of grieving, friendships, and breakfast.
It’s the most important meal of the day, you know.