Behind Every Great One
Cleaning house in Behind Every Great On e.
The Red Strings Club developer Deconstructeam regularly releases freeware games that play around with the adventure game genre. In its latest, Behind Every Great One, you explore life from the point of view of a woman lost in her selfobsessed artist husband’s shadow. While he works on his art, you undertake an assortment of chores, walking between a series of hotspots in a pleasantly drawn house. As with real chores, you’ve never enough time (or energy) in each day to do all of them. The jobs you have neglected will be brought up over the dinner table, and even those you’ve achieved will be torn apart when the artist’s horrible parents come to stay.
Behind Every Great One is a game about the more subtle, insidious side of sexism, where it’s felt in the atmosphere, and rarely brought to the surface where it can be confronted and, hopefully, tackled. Your selfish, immature spouse might encourage you to find a passion, but he shuts himself in his studio all day, every day, leaving you to tackle every single piece of housework. He apologises for his parents when they come to visit, but says nothing when they voice their outdated views on marriage.
Each day in this brief adventure is therefore a procession of futile tasks – no matter what you do, whether it’s the cooking or dusting the floor,
every day you’ll be belittled and criticised by your family.
As you can imagine, it gets fairly tiresome, doing all that housework, day after day – and that exhaustion is mirrored in the behaviour of protagonist Victorine. At some point most days she’ll break down and burst into tears, before wiping her eyes and carrying on with her lonely life. It’s unclear whether she’s upset by her situation specifically, or if it taps into something more interior. I think that vagueness is by design, making the game all the more effective in its depiction of depression.
But Victorine refuses to break down in front of her family, so you will need to steer her to an empty room in order to cry. These scant moments of expression are desperately sad – they are really the only glimmers of insight we get into our player character – and they build over the course of the game towards a perfectly judged, cathartic conclusion.
It’s a shame that the dialogue is a bit sloppy, with several grammatical errors and jarring word choices betraying BEGO’s origins as a jam game, but for the most part its characters hit the right note – these people feel authentic, while the situation will be understandable by pretty much every adult.
In Behind Every Great One, Deconstructeam has created a fairly complex study of marriage and family dynamics, but also what feels like a meaningful simulation of depression. That’s not bad for something that was whipped up in just a few days for a game jam.
Victorine refuses to break down in front of her family
Your mother-in-law will disapprove, whatever you do.
The camera zooms in and out frequently.
The background colour shifts constantly. It’s a lovely effect.
Your home gradually fills up with guests.