I'd like to introduce you to Penthos, a game that somehow pulls of the feat of being endearing and heartbreaking in the same story. This game is a hybrid of a visual novel and exploration-driven genres, where you play as a narrator mostly in the scope of their home. As the game description itself hints, something feels off. You start to look around, entranced, trying to discover what exactly feels so wrong.
Your first hint comes as you wander around your empty home. Surely their should be more here than the empty recesses of a home? Where are all the other people? You pick up a newspaper clipping about part of a family, mother and child killed in a tragic accident, splashed colorfully across the page, heartlessly transliterated into sensation to sell. They should give people some privacy, the narrator admonishes the inanimate but irrevocable sheet of paper laying in front of him.
Sooner or later, you find out that the very tragedy in the paper befell our own narrator, and follow him around as even the mundane tasks become difficult to carry out. Certain parts of the house are locked off, compartmentalized memories too painful to access. One moment you are carefully leafing through some old memories, and the next you want to smash any traces of plates into oblivion.
Penthos guides you implicitly through the narrator's five stages of grief, if you will, although not explicitly naming them. It does a fantastic job of illuminating the experience and making the characters feel solid and real, despite the fact that we never really see them. Along the way, you'll also be free to search for "stories", certain hotspots that evoke a reaction or bring a smile to your face and maybe some tears to your eyes. As the journey branches from real to almost surreal, you will see the struggle to cope firsthand with one of life's most difficult challenges.
Penthos is rather straightforward to play: use the arrow keys to maneuver and the mouse to manipulate the camera. A sticky note 'to-do' list will hover in the upper-left corner, reminding you of the menial tasks still requiring completion for the current day, and you will be able to progress between days when you finish looking around.
Get the full version for $5