If you’ve played your fair share of modern games, you may have heard of various new genres appearing. These include MMO Lites (or hybrid massive multiplayer online games such as Destiny) and even the rise of first person MOBAs (mobile online battle arenas, such as Overwatch). If you’ve heard of smartphone games and interactive fiction, however, then you may want to try to play Bury Me, My Love. The game is simple – you play as Nour, a young woman, who tries to go to Europe after fleeing away from Syria’s civil war. The gameplay, again simple – you learn the story through “text messages.”
Conceptualization: Creating A Story That Compels
The game is developed by The Pixel Hunt, a France-based studio. The game was in fact based on the actual stories of refugees from Syria, and the captivating story it tells can capture the interest of any reader and gamer not just because of its realistic take on the refugee narrative, but also because it tells a gripping tale too real to resist.
The narrative and gameplay style is actually based on real events, where one particular refugee actually used a smartphone to communicate with her loved ones at home. Like Nour, text messaging was their only way to get in touch with one another. In turn, the game attempts to recreate the various experiences of refugees through these messages, as Nour and her loved ones talk with each other, and in turn the player, in real time.
Simple Gameplay, Real Time Storytelling
The game itself is minimalistic, akin to a messenger app. Like a messenger app, the game also runs in the background as you fiddle with your smartphone. In fact, the notifications of the game mimic the ones you receive when you typically get messages and calls from actual people around you. Instead of getting one from a co-worker or from a friend, however, you get messages from Nour.
The gameplay style is too simple that you’ll be forced to be attentive to the story. Nour will text you with layers upon layers of texts of her experiences, ranging from memories of the distant past about her childhood, exposition about the war, random thoughts, and even in-game “selfies.”
You, as a player, can actually interact with Nour by choosing how to respond from a list of options everytime Nour sends a message. This is because Nour will often ask you for advice, and it’s often through these advice that you will feel Nour’s hopes, fears, and exhaustions as you basically determine her fate until the very end.
Sometimes you’d wonder if the choices you make will have a positive or negative impact towards Nour’s journey. That a simple text message can hold the line between life and death for a fictional character.
Drama In Waiting
Given the nature of the game, that in which it runs in real time, it’s actually suspenseful and gripping for the player themselves. This is because Nour will take minutes or even hours to respond. The ramifications of your actions will be felt as it happens in a “realistic” fashion. You will have to wait to see if Nour makes it or not.
Bury Me, My Love will ask you to make difficult choices the way you make difficult choices when you’re stuck in a conundrum you don’t know how to navigate. Sometimes, you don’t know if these are good or bad choices, and you don’t know if Nour will make it out in one piece.
According to The Pixel Hunt, there’s around a whopping 110,000 words of dialogue just waiting to be read between Nour and the player. There are also 19 different endings that you could encounter, but none of these can of course encapsulate all the experiences of Syrian refugees.
Point is, Bury Me, My Love isn’t meant to be an end-all, be-all index of everything that’s happening to Syrian refugees. It is a good first step however to let others see, albeit through another medium, that the civil war in Syria is taking a toll on the lives of many, and that the world can no longer ignore it.
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