Oiche Mhaith

http://ded.increpare.com/~locus/oiche_mhaith/

Oiche Mhaith, which translates to “Good Night” in Gaelic, is an RPG-style browser game from Increpare. Taking on the role of a blue-haired young girl named Eimear, the player navigates the protagonist through her home as she deals with a family that is dysfunctional, to say the least. The game begins with Eimear coming home from some unknown activity to be scolded by her mother, whose authoritarian parenting style becomes apparent as the dialogue progresses. Eimear then follows her mother into the house, whose setup appears eerily similar to the dungeons in several RPG games for the gameboy. At this point, it is apparent that this game will not be a joyful one.

The story of the game continues as Eimear’s mother sends the player off on a set of tasks, which include feeding her absent brother’s depressed dog, telling her masturbating father that dinner is ready, making her bed (after which she refers to the baby doll sitting next to the bed as a “filthy, slutty babby”), and setting the table. Eimear incorrectly sets the knives and thus upsets her mother, who calls her a disgrace warns her that her father will be very angered. A dinner scene follows and there is a slew of dialogue between the parents, laden with verbal abuse and threats to Eimear. The protagonist then goes to sleep, but not before repeating the hurtful words she heard from her mother and father and directing them towards her “Babby”.

Eimear wakes up to a series of loud noises, and as the player navigates her throughout the house, it is found that all the previously-occupied rooms are now vacant, with the exception of her father’s room. There, Eimear finds the lifeless and bloodied bodies of her mother and dog on the floor and her lifeless father sitting in a chair before them, holding a gun. At this point, the player loses control of Eimear, and the story progresses for a couple of minutes. To sum it up, Eimear transports their bodies from the graveyard back to their house and decides to try and give them their souls back with a computer program. At this point, the player has to use trial and error match up various symbols with each character to restore the correct soul to each person.

Inevitably, even after returning their souls to them, Eimear’s father repeats the murder-suicide. After this, Eimear is transported to a world of blackness and speaks with her dead father and mother, who apologize to her. The player then learns that Eimear’s brother had been dead, and he reunites with his parents. In the end, Eimear ends up alone.

Oiche Mhaith is a very emotionally-heavy game, and takes on a subject matter that I have never seen addressed within a video game before. It paints the picture of unhappy parents who take out their anger on their daughter. Playing the game made me feel uncomfortable, especially with the degree of the verbal abuse toward Eimear, who would project those same insults onto her doll. The family dynamics present in Oiche Mhaith convey the idea that children often take on the role of scapegoats, which is greatly damaging. In its depiction of a child’s attempt to undo a tragedy, I think that Oiche Mhaith makes claims about the resilience of childhood, but ultimately about the lack of control that a child has over their life.

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