All of us have thought at some point of our lives what happens after death, and many civilizations and religions have their own beliefs, trying to give an answer through stories. One such story, given in the form of a storybook is Sceal, a game by Joint Custody.
In Sceal you play the role of Iona, a lost spirit that tries to find its way into afterlife. To manage that, you must find three feathers, hidden in your village, that belong to your guide, a raven named Branna, revealing what happened to you in the process.
The gameplay is very simple. You guide Iona with your mouse, following Branna’s suggestions and finding places of interest in the unfinished world you are in. Then, you can paint life around you, revealing memories of your past and finding the feathers that will help you reach the afterlife.
There’s not much to say about the story since the game is extremely short and I might spoil it, but I can say that there are three different endings and to see them all you will have to replay the game three times. And this is the biggest flaw of Sceal. In an hour you can see everything the game has to offer, all three endings, and after that it is a bit difficult to get back to it.
Even though short, Sceal was made with love and attention and that shows from both the visual style and the music. The art is incredibly different and original, inspired by storybooks we used to read as children, that help bring to life a world straight out of myths or the imagination of a spirit.
On the same high level is the music. Traditional celtic songs, sung in gaelic, beautiful compositions and voices that create a dreamlike atmosphere and make you feel you are in Iona’s village. Each part of the story is being told through music, following the feelings of our lost spirit. Happiness, grief, sadness and confusion are all there to enjoy through sound.
As I mentioned above, the story is very short and not that original as far as stories go. It is something that would be better enjoyed by a very young kid and I thought that parents could play this game with their children right before bedtime while reciting the beautiful and poetic writing of the game. In a similar situation I believe the game will shine and it feels like a great way to bring videogames into fairytale storytelling. I can definitely see Sceal or similar games being played in kindergarden by teachers with their young sudents.
I believe the game is not for everyone since there aren’t many things to do in it and the story is not somehting that many gamers haven’t seen before. But games like Sceal can have a way different audience (parents, teachers, kids) that can ease kids into the videogame world presenting beautiful art and music in an interactive way that can be very enjoyable.
You can buy Sceal on Steam for the price of 4,99€.
Sceal is a game made with love and attention to detail. Its duration is very short and the story is not that original, but whatever loses in these aspects, wins back with original visual style and beautiful music. It is a game that will be better enjoyed by very young kids and is recommended to parents who want to have a beautiful evening with their children.
+ Visual style
+ Poetic writing
– Extremely short
– The story is not that original
Score : 7,2/10
-Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas