“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” – Mary Shelley
Birth is a surreal and gruesome point-and-click puzzle game about a lonely protagonist that scours the city in search of body parts with which to build a companion. The game was created by solo developer Madison Karrh, creator of Landlord of the Woods and Whimsy.
Developer: Madison Karrh
Released: 17th February 2023
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Available on: Steam
Birth sees the protagonist wandering the city and entering a range of buildings including multiple strangers’ apartments, a library and an apothecary. Each area has a series of interconnected puzzles that must be solved in order to obtain a specific body part, such as a lung or a ribcage. The conundrums are varied and incorporate logic and physics, hidden objects, jigsaw puzzles and secret passwords to name a few. There is little to no instruction but with the exception of a couple of the problems, they all have fairly clear objectives. The puzzles are very satisfying overall and are a lot of fun to progress through.
The gameplay is somewhat linear, with the city divided into sections that unlock as the previous one is completed. Despite that, there is plenty of freedom to roam within each different section and players can choose in which order to enter buildings. Once a new section is unlocked, the previous ones remain accessible.
As an added extra, there are a number of coins to collect throughout the city, these can be used in different vending machines that will provide a fun interaction such as an aquarium or carousel. These later appear as toys and trinkets in the protagonist’s apartment.
Narrative and Styling
The game’s narrative follows a lonely protagonist as they roam the city in a bid to find various bones and organs that they will use to create a companion. It is told through the gameplay and the visuals and features almost no text or speech making it very accessible. The plethora of locations and NPCs provide a kind of bizarre slice-of-life narrative element that entertains in the background. The story is disturbing yet strangely endearing which provides an intriguing contrast that feels really unique.
Birth has a hand-drawn cartoon-like art style that uses bold lines and a muted, pastel colour palette. Much like the narrative, this creates a pleasing juxtaposition between the cuteness of the overall aesthetic with the harshness of the gore being depicted. There is a nice level of detail and originality in both the city and the eclectic places and characters that fill it. The music largely consists of renditions of familiar classical tunes, such as Clare de Lune by Claude Debussy, played on a piano or keyboard over an ethereal droning. It has a relaxing but slightly eerie feel to it and matches the visuals and gameplay very well.
Birth is a brilliant example of a point-and-click puzzle game that will take around 1-2 hours to complete. It has a lot to offer with its unique cute and creepy aesthetic, charming yet entirely disturbing narrative, highly enjoyable and rewarding gameplay and overall accessibility. The consistent juxtaposition across all aspects of the experience are the highlight amongst an array of quality game elements and really makes this title stand out. Overall, this is another gem from Madison Karrh and I highly recommend it.
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Boxville – Point-and-Click Puzzle Game Meets Animated Film – a pet shop after dark – A Unique Psychological Horror and Puzzle Game – Lost in Play – A Surprisingly Tricky Puzzle Adventure!