The Nintendo Switch eShop is often hard to navigate, as a barrage of new titles being added every day to a storefront without a rating system can make it difficult to discern the proverbial trash from treasure. Every now and again I check the New Releases tab, hoping to find a game that intrigues me. I put Bury me, my love on my wishlist but didn’t get to finish it until recently.
Developed by The Pixel Hunt and published by Pladius Entertainment, Bury me, my love follows a Syrian man named Majd as he communicates with his wife, Nour, during her journey from Syria to Europe. Her goal is to be granted asylum in Germany, so that her husband can follow her later on after she’s settled in. Unfortunately, the road is more treacherous than they previously thought, and Nour sends updates via text about her day-to-day as she’s faced with decisions about whether to trust smugglers, how to navigate around closed borders, and how to deal with racism and sexism at every turn. Majd is more or less helpless, and the tension is palpable as his wife sometimes disappears from their chat for hours on end, figuring out where to spend the night or how to deal with police. He can, however, talk to her, and it is your job to take up the role of Majd and assist Nour with as much guidance as you can give to her over the phone, all the while praying for her safety.
Presentation & Gameplay
The game takes place in a text chat, structured similarly to Whatsapp or iMessage. The only screen you will see is that of the phone conversation, which is very rarely graced by a photo from Nour or Majd, depicted in an incredibly charming hand-drawn artstyle.
There isn’t much else to say here, as the game is not at all focussed on what you can see with your eyes, but rather what you can imagine with your mind. Nour is very descriptive about her whereabouts and day-to-day, her expressiveness and frustrations paint a very personal picture of the hardships Syrians and other people from war-torn countries face as they desperately try to survive. Majd provides assistance and directions from time to time, sending her geotags of places she should head to in order to find shelter, and the time that passes between texts provides a sense of urgency.
Another interesting tidbit in the game’s presentation is that you are able to follow Nour’s journey from Syria to Europe through a map, which gives further weight to just how much she has had to go through.
Gameplay is minimal, as most of the conversations play out by themselves. At some points, you can choose how Majd responds to Nour with a button press or using the touch screen, often during times where she needs help making a decision, such as whether to trust a smuggler charging thousands of Euros to get her to another country safely, or whether she should find a way to get there on her own. Other times, your input is required in situations that direct the tone of the conversation; how you choose to respond can make Nour laugh if you make a joke, or angry if you express frustration with the situation at hand.
Conversations held each day are punctuated by time passing, you may be speaking to Nour at 5:27 pm and not get a response until 10:32 am the next day, depending on whether she got into trouble with police, was on a bus, or had a dead battery among other things. When these time jumps occur, the screen goes black and the digital clock scrolls to the updated time. As your gameplay session continues, longer jumps in time bring more and more feelings of dread, as her journey gets more perilous with each passing day. Moments during which Nour had to cross a river, witness a murder, run away from racist gangs, and deal with sexual harassment all had my heart in my throat, especially when hours passed without a response. This game does so, so much with what little it has, and the choices you make to guide her can lead in her success or her doom.
This game was hauntingly beautiful. The tension was heavy in some scenes, where I was genuinely afraid about whether the decisions I helped Nour make would result in her arrest, or even death. Of course, being a future immigrant myself (I count myself as one despite being a German citizen), I empathise with those seeking better lives for their families. However, I never really considered the arduous journey families had to make, nor the sacrifices their hands would be forced into.
Majd’s relationship with his wife is very authentic, and his moments nerding out about the historical sites Nour visits, as well as the pranks Nour plays on her husband to make him worry are great ways to break up the tension. It is a game I’m glad I came across.
VERDICT – “Loved It”
Rating scale for games, from best to worst:
- Loved it
- Liked it
- I mean… it’s aight
- Just… don’t.
- Certified trash, burn immediately
Bury me, my love is available on Nintendo Switch for $4.99 USD/€4,99 EUR.