I Am Dead review: A game about death that has so much life

Annapurna Interactive
Annapurna Interactive /

I Am Dead is a charming puzzle adventure that equally serves as both an experience in finding objects but understanding the stories behind them.

Title: I Am Dead
Developer: Hollow Ponds
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on), PC
Release Date: October 8, 2020

I Am Dead is a 3D puzzle adventure game by developer Hollow Ponds, where you play as Morris Lupton, a museum curator on the small island of Shelmerston.  After starting the game, you quickly find out that Morris is dead, thus the title of the game.

Soon after an early morning walk along the beach and a quick stop at his old workplace, Morris is reunited with the ghost of his old dog Sparky who, to Morris’ delight, can talk. She is pleased to see her old owner but explains to him that the island’s long quiet volcano will erupt unless Morris can find a new custodial spirit to soothe the area’s explosive energy.

This is the driving force behind the entire story as Morris himself cannot be the island’s custodian because he has not been dead for more than 1,000 days.  To find a custodian, you must hunt through the world and find items that were important to each prospective ghost when they were alive.

Before this hunt begins, Morris is tasked with listening to each ghost’s recollections, which serve as an essential hint in finding their signature item, which could be any object in the immediate area, which there are dozens of.  Suppose you fail to listen to the recollections. In that case, you will be stuck laboriously combing through every item imaginable until the game gives you a blatant hint as to what it is you are looking for.

I Am Dead
Annapurna Interactive /

Objects can be closely inspected, manipulated, rotated around, or peered into. Sometimes the object you are looking for lies within another object.  In addition to looking for the items that will allow Morris to commune with the prospects, players can also search for things that will reveal “grenkins,” which are little spirits that hold significance to the island.  They serve as a nice side collectible to the main objects you are looking for.

I Am Dead serves as a celebration of everyday life, of the little things that we don’t often think about, but can mean so much to us.  The stories behind each ghost and the objects they cherished were all impactful and poignant.  Every spirit you interact with loved their life and the small island they called home.  There is a somewhat simple pleasure of discovering memories attached to tiny objects, which made me reflect on the items in my own life and the stories that come with them.   The game serves as a gentle reminder of our mortality. It demonstrates the lesson of appreciating the smaller details of our brief existence.

I Am Dead
Annapurna Interactive /

With all its charm, the game does have one major flaw.  Being that sometimes it can be dull to play through in long intervals of time.  I found myself enjoying the game when I took my time with the experience and didn’t needlessly rush through it. I recommend playing in short bursts, as combing through objects for anything longer than an hour gets stale rather quickly.

In the time it took me to reach the credits, I grew to adore the town and residents of Shelmerston.  The stories and love buried deep within every nook, cranny, and object in the small island town are apparent and worth exploring, even if it’s best done in short intervals of time.  If you are even mildly a fan of puzzle adventure games, I highly recommend giving I Am Dead a try.

80. While best played in short bursts, I Am Dead is a charming and delightful puzzle adventure that equally serves as both an experience in finding objects but understanding the stories behind them.  It reminds us to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the smaller gifts life offers.  Anyone who is a fan of puzzles or games with a captivating narrative will likely fall in love with I Am Dead just as much as I did.. I Am Dead. . Hollow Ponds

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.