Developer Tale of Tales have made a few "games" now. I would use the word "game" loosley because many of ToT games are based around exploration or interaction without rules, regulations, end points, or purpose. Striving for a different kind of experience then your average game ToT has created The Graveyard.
The Graveyard was a Independent Game Festival Finalist this year. While it may not have won the top spot, it did earn recognition for its achievements in the game space. Most notably The Graveyard's ability to display an open ended experience. The Graveyard doesn't tell us a story, so much as it explores an emotion. The Graveyard can be picked up for $5 on Steam or can be downloaded for free from ToT's site. There is a difference between the free and purchase versions, which I will get into below, I personally purchased the game without knowing that their was a difference between the two.
The Graveyard is a hard game to discuss unless you have experienced it. The game is rather short (10 minutes or so) and I would highly recommend just playing the game before reading further as there are spoilers below. Also, I wouldn't read the description text/summary that Steam and the ToT website has to explain the game as it takes away from the exploration aspect of the game.
Ok, now that you have hopefully played The Graveyard I can actually talk about the details of it. The Graveyard is aesthetically interesting and morbid. The use of black and white (with plenty of gray in between) helps make the entire journey a dark and depressing one. The old ladies inability to walk well, helps you connect with her plight and her mortality. You are clearly in control of someone near the end of their life.
As you make your way over to the bench, the sounds of the world around you are amazing. It gives you the feeling that the world isn't slowing down for you, that while your personal world is slowing to a crawl the busy world is zooming past. In a way you feel like you are moving slower to cling on to the last remaining part of your life.
Once you get to the bench and rest, a song starts to play. The song very clearly (via subtitles) is about the memories of the people who this old lady has lost. The song had a certain dark and melancholy sound to it that continues to strengthen the depressing emotion of The Graveyard.
This is where things can be very different depending on if you purchased the game or not. If you purchased it, there is a chance that the old lady will actually die on the bench. This adds a twist, that left me a little confused until I looked online to find out why I couldn't "finish" the game. While it left me rather frustrated not knowing what I was supposed to do next, it would have been better if the game, gave you a better indication that you had actually died. Also, I had to ctl-alt-del to exit the game, after my character died which to me, seems like poor programing.
The Graveyard is an interesting experience to say the least. It did a good job portraying the heavy heart that comes with losing so many loved ones. This game is a great example of how broad video games can be. I would have loved if it had explored more religious overtones dealing with death, like the exploration and celebration of life after death through Jesus. The setup was perfect for a transition from the dark and morbid setting to a bright and joyful one. The contrast would have been awesome to experience. In the end though, Tale of Tales clearly wanted to create an experience that was designed to impact you in a darker way. I like what the Graveyard accomplishes and look forward to seeing more work from Tale of Tales.