Developer Pixel Hunt's track record of delivering intriguing visual novels began with the optimistic, heartrending refugee story of Bury Me, My Love. They’re now returning with the similarly unique The Wreck, a memory-hopping, 3D visual novel unpacking themes of trauma, recovery, and motherhood, and it’s releasing on March 14th for PC.
The Wreck follows failed screenwriter Junon through the worst day in her life as her mind is on the point of collapse, and a brain aneurysm leaves her mother in critical condition. Amid all this trauma, Junon explores memories from her childhood and deals with the fraught relationships in her life - all while surrounded by some stunning, glossy art.
The whole 3D-ness of the game is also striking, jumping from traditional shots you'd see in an interactive drama, to first-person scenes flying through a burning house - perhaps these sections are exploring Junon's past. Choice-based dialogue returns here, and big white text pops up on screen to depict (or literally spell out) Junon's inner thoughts.
There’s also the question of the titular wreck, the car crash that appears in fragments throughout the trailer. Is the accident the inevitable fate Junon is avoiding? Is it what causes these glitching memories? Or perhaps it fits into the puzzle another way. Regardless, non-linear narratives are always a welcome sight, and I’ll enjoy untangling that thread no matter where the car leads - or crashes.
Bury Me, My Love was a highlight of the genre for me, emulating the anxiety and miscommunication that comes with digital chatting, wrapped up in the timely story of two Syrian refugees. Alec Meer had similarly nice words in his review, saying, “Bury Me, My Love isn't, first and foremost, a treaty about refugee-ism: it's a compelling and effective game about deciding what the hell to do next.”
If The Wreck can match the devs’ previous work, we’re in for a treat. The Wreck launches on PC via Steam and Nintendo Switch on March 14th. A free demo is also available now.