The loss of a parent, guardian or caregiver is a weighty thing to ponder, and it's likely an especially painful experience for those who had a strained or broken relationship with whoever raised them. But that didn't stop game developer Joel McDonald () and his team from diving headfirst into topics like grief, resentment, acceptance and forgiveness in Hindsight, a powerful narrative exploration game. Hindsight is an emotional, unflinching examination of our perception of memories.
Hindsight begins with Mary, an accomplished chef, who's about to open her first restaurant when she gets a call that her mother has died. Mary returns to sort out her childhood home, and she recounts her life from birth to the present day.
Hindsight gives the player a window into the past to explore memories. As Mary cleans out cabinets and drawers, she comes across objects the player can click to visit a moment in Mary's past. The development team created incredibly unique in-game transitions to capture these memories. Though the game is mostly point-and-click, there are a few puzzle elements. For instance, you may need to push papers or other clutter aside to unlock a memory. Some of these puzzle moments were a bit tedious, which was one of the only downsides to an otherwise deeply engaging game.
Hindsight also features elements of choice. For example, you can choose between examining house slippers or a piano, though choosing one over the other doesn't mean the other option is lost to you. At the end of each game chapter, Mary must choose to keep one of the items featured in her memories, as she ponders the question, "How do you choose what's most important?"
Hindsight is a relatively short game, but it isn't one you can rush through. Mary narrates the game in a soothing voice, accompanied by an atmospheric, gentle soundtrack. Hindsight mirrors the simple, slow pace of childhood, juxtaposed with the desire to be "grown up."
The game doesn't offer black-and-white answers to the questions Mary asks. It doesn't pretend there's a resolution for grief. Instead, it merely asks the player to join Mary as she processes her past, confronts resentment she held toward her mother, seeks to understand her mother as a person and how they might not have been so different.
Hindsight will strike an unforgettable chord with players. In today's fast-paced, instantaneous world, the game provides a moment to reflect on your own life, relationships and memories, and challenges you to try to view them in a different way.
You can play Hindsight today on Nintendo Switch, Steam and iOS.
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