Corinne Cross’s Dead & Breakfast is an adorable, story-rich journey into the life of the inquisitive, generous Ms. Corinne Cross.
This adventure title is a side-scrolling, 2D trek with charming cartoon graphics, a lovely if not simple soundtrack, and a superb blend of casual game-play with a faintly macabre atmosphere. Created by one person for the Indie Game Maker Challenge in 2015, the Dead & Breakfast took the grand prize and has now been updated and released on Steam as of August 18th, 2016.
What’s a Writer to Do?
Corinne is an ambitious, kind-hearted young woman who recently graduated “writer’s school,” only for her mother to set her up as a house-sitter for an elderly friend of the family who is in the hospital. It turns out that the injured Mrs. Styron also happens to be the relative of her recently deceased friend from high school, Gale – but that’s only the beginning of the overlap between the afterlife and Corinne’s foray into running a B&B. Aptly called a “Dead & Breakfast” instead, Corinne finds herself catering to guests who are not of this world while gaining the assistance and tutorage of the eccentric, mortician-next-door, Hermina.
Corinne Cross has very little time to master the skills required for maintaining this charming B&B for the restless spirits because the base game only spans a 7-Day period; this also includes separate activities and objectives for daytime and nighttime portions, so it feels closer to 14-days by the end. In addition to expanding her prowess as a Gardener, she must also learn how to be the resident Cook, which includes hunting down long-lost recipes in order to be able to make all ten dishes available in the game. With the help of Hermina, who also has Corinne maintaining the potted plants on the graves in the adjacent graveyard, Corinne learns how to plant and grow flowers for income so that she has enough spending money to keep the Dead & Breakfast going. The pay is good because eventually, the spectral guests start asking for a special meal, which means a trip to the local grocer to obtain the ingredients.
Let’s Talk Time Management
Like many similar titles, Corinne Cross’s Dead & Breakfast uses an energy bar system to manage how much activity Corinne can do in a single day. While I found that it wasn’t a big factor early on in the week, I had to manage it a little more carefully towards the end; however, this wasn’t as taxing as I had expected. Going into this title having only read the Steam description, I expected another frantic, time and money-managing combination that I’ve seen in many other video games. It was a pleasant surprise that this title is a very casual, laid-back adventure, and while not quite Point-&-Click in nature, there is no real-time countdown nor need to obsessive micro-managing of activities. As long as I was careful, I was able to keep my energy spread out enough to do my work, produce enough flowers to buy supplies, and still be able to leisurely enjoy this quaint journey.
There are Steam achievements available, for anyone who is in the mood to hunt for them, and I stumbled across a few unintentionally just in the course of normal play. Once you defeat the game the first time, you can also go back in for a new mode, which increases the difficulty, adds additional content, bonus scenes, and even new dialog among the characters. This drastically increases the replay value, even if only for another run or two; considering Dead & Breakfast has roughly a 3-4 hour playtime to defeat the initial game mode, it still lends quite a bit of extra value to an already appealing bundle.
According to the Steam description, there are also multiple endings depending on your dialog choices during your play-through, and while I have yet to confirm these alternatives and how varied they are, I certainly intend to take at least one more trek into the Dead & Breakfast to find out!
Corinne Cross’s Dead & Breakfast is an enchanting, entertaining, and relaxing quest to maintain a B&B for ghosts. It combines a compelling storyline – one that is touching at times, but ultimately upbeat despite the potential for sadness here – and a fun heroine, with quirky townspeople, and tasks that never seem like a chore. The fact that a one-person developer created this makes it even more impressive, and I hope that Ms. Cecilia Bishton will bestow additional DLC upon us in the future.
Dead & Breakfast made me think of a shorter, more casual twist on what Stardew Valley offers in terms of objectives, activities, and cuteness, with more emphasis on story and less of an open-ended environment. It is a charming, fairly brief but endearing title, and I truly enjoyed my experience playing Corinne Cross in her home for wayward ghosts.