The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a story-heavy casual adventure game brought to us by Roma developer One O One Games and German game publisher Daedalic Entertainment, the latter being the very same who brought us State of Mind (found on Switchaboo as well, I recommend you read it). The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a short, single-player experience with an emotionally charged narrative that explores some very dark themes. With that being said, I would like to take a page from the game itself and give a content warning. The topics of sexual abuse against a minor and suicide are prevelant throughout the game, so naturally, will be prevalent in this review. Thank you for reading.
By far, this game’s strongest aspect is its story. It follows Nicole, a young girl who returns to her family’s hotel where she was raised, The Timberland, shortly after the death of her estranged father, with intentions of selling the building. Her family was fractured after Nicole’s father had an affair with the sixteen year old Rachel Foster, which led to a pregnancy and her suicide. Nicole is trapped inside the hotel during a blizzard and is forced to face the demons of her past while trying to survive alone in the middle of the remote Montana mountains. The story explores the effects of the father’s actions on the community around him, his family, and Nicole herself. At the same time, supernatural elements are introduced as fears that Rachel’s ghost haunts the hotel.
Another strong aspect of the game is how much it does with so little. Throughout the game, there are only two characters present: Nicole and a Federal Emergency Management Agent that she talks with on the phone, named Irving. There are memories and recordings of other characters but Nicole and Irving carry the story for the majority of the game. Finally, the setting of the game is very strong. The Timberland is a three-storey building, with just the right amount of varied areas to explore when compared with the game’s short length.
- Excellent Story
- Personal characterisation
- A fitting setting for the game’s length
While the story is great, it only stays that way for the first 80% of the game. A reveal is made most of the way through and while that reveal itself was well done, everything that happens after that is a product of lazy storytelling. This leads to a problematic message being sent to the player. I am doing my best not to spoil anything but I feel the need to mention that the game paints a picture that Nicole’s father, the one who molested a minor, is a victim. It is somewhat unclear if this was intentional or not but it is a huge issue nonetheless. The game finally culminates in an ending that wants to achieve an emotional weight that is not deserved, ultimately leaving its themes half explored. Its conclusions are problematic and half actualised, which is maddening considering the narrative’s excellent beginning.
Another issue I have is with the opening content warning. The presence of it is great but what it actually says is misrepresentative of the game’s content. Everytime you start the game, you read “The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a fictional game containing sensitive subjects that explore grooming and suicide.” It then, wisely considering how poorly it tackles these subjects, recommends that anyone dealing with these issues avoids playing the game and talking to a friend or calling a local helpline. My issue with this content warning is that the game does not ever tackle the issue of grooming. I spent the game waiting to learn how Nicole’s father might have groomed Rachel but the topic is never touched upon. A more accurate phrasing would be to replace ‘grooming’ with ‘sexual abuse.’ Another issue I have is that it should recommend that victims of these issues seek professional counseling, but that might be more of a personal gripe.
My final issue with the game is its script. I’m not sure if it’s a localisation issue but there are many lines that simply don’t sound natural and represent how a normal person would speak. The voice actor tries their best with what they’re given but it often comes off sounding like robot aliens.
- Terrible ending
- Misrepresents its own themes
- Poor Script
Final Score: 4/10
Before I reached the final act, I was ready to score this game at around an eight. However, when the issues present in the game’s story rears its ugly head, it takes an excellent story and slams it into the mud. If the game took another hour or so to explore some of its themes further, to demonise the father instead of victimizing him, “The Good” section of this review might have been longer. It’s a shame that a game that decided to deal with such heavy topics dropped the ball like this because it could have brought awareness to these very real issues and the very real consequences they carry. I want to believe that this is just a product of a rushed conclusion or that maybe a lot of the game’s script had to have been cut for one reason or another, but it’s a hard pill to swallow considering that this is an indie game. It’s a shame because the only two excuses I can think for these atrocious flaws is either lazy storytelling or a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues within the story. My favourite thing about Daedalic’s previously published title, State of Mind, was its story and The Suicide of Rachel Foster does not hold up in comparison.
Thank you for checking out our The Suicide of Rachel Foster Switch review, thank you to Daedelic Entertainment for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: