Uncharitable Permadeath Thoughts
I’ve been continuing my Permadeath Speedruns today with Tale of Tales‘ classic notgame The Graveyard. It’s an odd game for this process and I’ve enjoyed experiencing and thinking about it for its contrasts with other games I’ve taken the approach with. For one thing it’s a game about being surrounded by reminders of mortality in the first place.
But most of all the speedrun involves a bizarre callousness toward the old woman who is the protagonist. To die in the game you have to get to the bench at the end of the path, and it turns out (unsurprisingly) that the fastest route is just to hold down the arrow key to move forward until she gets there (with a little bit of fiddling right at the end to align yourself with the bench for sitting). However, if you hold down the key to move, the old woman starts limping after a few paces. I tested it, though, and the limping walk to the bench is faster than letter her catch her breath every now and then. So limp she must, unfortunately.
The worse part of it, though, is that the woman only has a random chance of dying on the bench, and nor is her time of death actually fixed – she can die at various points of the song that plays as she sit there remembering her family (I assume). So speedrunning involved not just working to ‘perfect’ the basic movement to the bench, but also, quite frankly, willing the woman to die as quickly as possible.
I had one run of 3:18 or so, but I was pretty sure it was possible for her to die earlier so I kept running. Then I managed a run of 2:40ish because she died early in the song, but irritatingly I’d slightly screwed up in rotating her to sit on the bench. It only cost a second or so, but it’s a speedrun (at least aesthetically), so it mattered and I had to keep going. Throughout this process I’d get her to the bench and then sit there thinking (and sometimes saying), “die… die… die.” It felt wrong, but also an interesting relationship to the character and another way of relating to Tale of Tales’ decision to make death random in the way they did. It was their design work there that allowed and _provoked _me to feel bad and strange for my wishes, and I think that’s impressive.
My best run is at 2:18, and I don’t feel so good.