Be­hind Ev­ery Great One

Clean­ing house in Be­hind Ev­ery Great On e.

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Tom Sykes

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.

Home pride

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.

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