The demo is virtually the whole thing - there’s also a full version that weights in around a measly three quid, although the only extra feature you get is death. If that sounds strange, then read on…
The Graveyard is teeny-tiny game developed by Tale of Tales, an indie developer with a penchant for rich, experiential games. It’s certainly nothing like a normal game.
You play an old woman, and the only goal in the game is to walk slowly through a graveyard, with the aid of your trusty walking stick, towards a bench. When you get to the bench, you sit down, and listen to a song. Once the song has finished, you get up and walk out of the graveyard again – and then the game ends. That’s it.
The developers describe it as “more like an explorable painting than an actual game” and that’s about right. It’s a delightful little vignette, like a single scene from a film or play, or a half-forgotten memory. As you walk away from the gate the traffic noise fades, replaced by the wind in the trees, the calls of birds and the odd dog barking. Clouds move across the sun, and the trees and bushes sway slightly in the breeze.
I’d just been playing Rage, which is about as opposite as you can get, and it took me a while to stop trying to strafe into cover and check behind gravestones for loot – but I did stop, soon enough. The change of pace from “normal” games is jarring, but that only makes you think more about what it is you’re experiencing and how different it is. The chance for a moment of quiet reflecting in a game is seriously rare, and the Graveyard is a quiet, meditative experience in which the glacial pace of your character’s limping progress isn’t a cause for terror or frustration, but gives you time to consider things.
Tales of Tales call it “…an experiment with realtime poetry, with storytelling without words.” It’s certainly a lovely experience, and at ten minutes long at most it’s definitely worth a go. The “full” game that you get for £3 is still a mystery to me (three quid was slightly above the margin I was willing to pay for ten minutes of intrigue, although having said that I do feel a bit tight) but apparently if you buy the full game then sometimes your old woman character will die. And that’s not something you can say about many games.