an astonishingly deep work about family, trauma and intimacy. it's rare to find art that so deftly portrays the difficulties those who have been abused and ostracized face connecting even with each other. this is a game rich with that sorrow, and spoke to a deep part of me that has felt Fallow since i was very young.
if that describes you as well, take heart. this game's thematic conclusion may imply that the intimacy you crave will forever be out of reach, but it isn't true. trauma makes things hard, yes, and ada rook certainly understands that better than many, but true connection is not impossible. even if the walls trauma has built around you seem impenetrable, they can be dismantled. it is possible to heal.
i didn't know that ada rook had a background as a professional musician until i'd almost finished the game but it certainly comes through in the game's impeccably tense, aching and beautiful soundtrack. and the sealed door provides access to almost an entire additional game, a wide and bewildering world where dreams, memories and the physical interweave to add incredible depth to isabelline's already breathtaking, heartbreaking story. don't neglect to find the combination. (there's no secret ending in there though, at least not one that i found)
my only criticism of the game is that some of the puzzles are too hard, the answers gated behind unintuitive tricks and secrets. if you find yourself stuck in alburn manor, remember that the direction of your movements also matters.
i can't recommend this game enough to anyone queer and/or trans, anyone who's ever felt like they didn't fit in the world, anyone who's been abused in the broad sense or the specific sense. just be aware that the ending might awaken a pain in you that you thought you'd forgotten. ideally, play it with someone you love.