I don’t often play “Walking Simulator” games, more accurately, I don’t complete many “Walking Simulators”, I have, in fact, started dozens, it’s just the majority of them don’t really do anything to maintain my interest. Over the years there have been two exceptions, “Gone Home” and “Journey” but now that I have completed “The Suicide of Rachel Foster” I can proudly say…there are still only two.
“The Suicide of Rachel Foster” is a story about a young woman named “Nicole” reluctantly returning home to her family’s hotel in order to sell it following the death of her mother. We learn pretty quickly that 10 years ago, Nicole’s 40 year old father (Leonard) was involved in a sexual “relationship” with a 16 year old girl, the titular “Rachel Foster”, culminating with her suicide.As the game progresses Nicole begins suspecting that there was more to Rachel’s death than she previously thought, and she begins to piece together the truth. She is aided in her investigation by FEMA agent Irving, a mysterious voice on the other end of the phone.
The gameplay is pretty standard for a walking simulator, nothing to write home about, you explore the area and use items you find to progress the story, it’s pretty inoffensive, which (sadly) is about the highest praise I can muster for this shite game. And with that miniscule amount of praise out of the way, we’ll get stuck into the many issues this game has!
Let’s start with the sickening “head bob”, which honestly is the least of this game’s problems, but we’ll work our way up the mountain of bollocks. I’ve never understood why developers think that adding “head bob” makes a game feel more immersive, because for me it’s the exact fucking opposite. Nothing creates more of a dissonance than when something doesn’t behave the way it’s supposed to, and human beings heads don’t fucking bob while we walk. In fact, any movement created while we move is compensated for by our eyes!
This might seem like a small complaint at first, but it is made more apparent because of the sheer amount of backtracking the player is forced to endure, because of the awful habit this game has of not properly explaining the next objective.(“Where the fuck is the bathroom!?”)
The dialogue also seems like it was created by people who aren’t quite sure how humans are supposed to behave. The relationship between Nicole and Irving is a perfect example, they start off as strangers, then the story will advance to the next chapter and their relationship has suddenly deepened. We’re never shown anything to justify it and are just expected to accept that it has happened and move on.(“I guess we’re in love now….”)
But these complaints are miniscule compared to the next one, I mentioned earlier that Leonard was in a sexual “relationship” with Rachel, but the game refers to it as an “affair”, which implies extra marital relations with TWO consenting ADULTS! Never, at any point, do either of the characters call it what it so very clearly is, child abuse. In fact they go as far as portraying it as some kind of fairy-tale romance between two star crossed lovers. Irving refers to it as “love, nothing more, nothing less” a “love” that was simply “too much” and “it would be punished.” Oh, did I mention *SPOILERS* Irving is Rachael’s brother? Making his tacit approval all the more disturbing.
But the ick doesn’t stop there, we later find out, while exploring a creepy replica of Rachel’s childhood room that she suffered from dyslexia and was being bullied as a result. And Leonard was actually a family friend that was tutoring her, in order to help her grades. So we have this emotionally fragile, learning impaired young child who is vulnerable and along comes a predator that takes advantage of her and the writers of this shit are acting as if it’s Romeo and Juliet!(If he really “loved” Rachel, why put that awful word there??)
And that’s STILL not the worst of it; while looking around this room Irving calls it a shrine to Rachel and Nicole loses her fucking mind. Saying “my father was a lot of things but he wasn’t some creep that would build a shrine”…. WHAT?!?!? So he abuses a vulnerable young child, impregnates her (oh yes he does that too) and she commits suicide as a result, but you draw the line at arts and fucking crafts??(At least someone disproved!)
And if you think the gross factor stops there, think again buttercup because there’s more. To be honest I don’t recommend anyone play this game but I’ll put a *SPOILER WARNING* in anyway. So after the story is revealed in its entirety, Irving decides that it’s time to “be with Rachel and Leonard” a.k.a committing suicide. It’s not that I have a problem with a morbid ending, no, my problem is with the way this game romanticises suicide. Irving goes so far as to call it “beautiful and pain free”, “a way he can be with his sister forever”; he even encourages Nicole to do the same so they can “all be together”. Not only is this amazingly disturbing it is shockingly irresponsible to put that kind of message out into the world.
Never has a video game made me feel more uncomfortable, I felt like I needed to bathe after completing it. I’m all for video games tackling darker themes, but that’s not what this felt like. It felt like a child abuse excusing, suicide promoting train wreck, which seems oblivious to the horrific crimes that have been uncovered in the past few years alone. With a boring and predictable story, uninteresting gameplay and a disturbing message there is really no reason to give this game the time of day beyond morbid curiosity.