Underneath my yellow skin

Applying Taiji to My Mental Health–and Finishing The Sexy Brutale

One of the hardest things about being sick is how depressed I get over it. It didn’t used to be this way. Or rather, I used to be depressed all the time, so getting sick didn’t really add to that depression. Also, I mistreated my body so badly, I really couldn’t expect it to be kind to me. I was a hot mess in general, so having bronchitis for months at a time (not an exaggeration) wasn’t that noticeable of an added detriment. However, two things have changed that. One, I hadn’t been sick in years. For about five years (during the middle of my taiji studies), I was blissfully cold and flu and bronchitis-free. Then, I got a cold or flu one winter, and it was hellish. This was three or four years ago, and it’s happened every year since. I get sick (undefined. The one year I went to the doctor, twice, she wasn’t able to pinpoint anything. In fact, I got even sicker after visiting her. Rightly or wrongly, I blame going to the clinic for getting even sicker. It was really awful), and it lasts for weeks. Even worse, I get better, go back to my normal life, and then I get sick again. That’s what happened this time, and it’s discouraging. I didn’t think I overdid it this time when I got well again, but I could be wrong.

I’m coughing a lot. I get this coagulation in my throat, and then I have to hork to try to get it out. It immediately settles back in again, and it’s infuriating. It’s better today as the ball of snot (that’s how I think of it) lodged in the back of my throat is smaller, but it’s still there no matter how much I hork. I have mentioned a time or a hundred that I am a huge control freak, and not being able to will away my sickness pisses me off. It’s not rational nor reasonable, but I still get irritated when I can’t hork out the snot ball for good. I get pissed that I tire so easily and that going to the store drains me completely. I wake up, and the only thing I want to do is go back to bed.

I know that being mad at my body isn’t helping. It’s not going to mend faster simply because I internally yell at it. It’s frustrating because in other areas of my life, I’ve been able to relax and not get so uptight about what’s happening. The example I pull out every time is when I got in my car crash. The second I realized that I couldn’t prevent it, I relaxed and suffered no more than a massive bruise on my abdomen from the seat belt and the airbag. The key was to realize that there was nothing I could do to prevent it, relaxing, and accepting that the crash was going to happen.

I wish I could do the same with being sick. Do the things I know that will help me get better, then just ride it out. Getting mad doesn’t help. Berating my body doesn’t help. You know what does help? The Sexy Brutale. OK, not really, but I finished it recently, and I needed a graceful segue into talking about it. Spoiler warning: I’m going to try my best not to spoil anything about the ending, but I can’t talk about it without a few minor spoilers. In addition, I want to include pictures from the end game, and if you’re going to play the game, you best just skip this all. Everything about the game is below the cut.

I put off finishing The Sexy Brutale for a day or two because I was nervous about the ending. It had been such a great game up to that point despite its minor flaws, and I was nervous that the end would let me down. I also don’t like endings in general, so it made sense that I would shy away from the last act of this game. However, I had to know how it would end. I had to know if Cavalier Game Studios and Tequila Works would be able to pull it all together and go out in a brilliant flash of glory. I had to know if I was right about my theory of what had happened (I was. Mostly. Or rather, I got three-fourths of the solution right, but missed the core reason for why this all was happening).

I fired it up and was lost in The Sexy Brutale once again. (The mansion, not the game, though also the game.) Lafcadio and I were so close to the solution, and I just had to soldier on. I already knew who the last victim would be (and I was right), so all I had to do was save him, right? Wrong! I really thought the last act would be another ten minutes or so, but it was much more than that. I didn’t just have to save the last victim, I had to uncover the reason for why I was doing all this in the first place. I found out about the history of the mansion, the owner, and all the guests. I found out who I was (I was right!), and why I was the one investigating.

i can take 'em.
This does not look good at all!

I was gobsmacked about how lush and marvelous the last act was. It didn’t matter that I had pretty much figured out the ending; it still managed to wow me, anyway. I was enthralled and intrigued, and I felt a sense of urgency that wasn’t there in the earlier game. I mean, I still was able to rewind the day, and there was no pressure of ‘failing’, but I still wanted to save the final victim with a passion I didn’t have for the other victims. Don’t get me wrong–I wanted to save them, too. There’s one I especially related to, and saving her felt extra-good. However, the last victim was different. The last victim was special. I learned the most about the last victim before I tried to save him. I came to care about him as a person in a way I hadn’t with the others. I got to see him as a rounded individual rather than just a bright cartoon character, and so, I was doubly invested in preventing his death.

I wish I could express how much I loved the last area of the game. Same style as the rest of the game, of course, but there are a few clever details that made it even more impressive such as the tubes overhead in which you can walk. I don’t want to give away too much about them, but I figured out earlier that there must be something like this that allowed the staff to move about unhindered. It’s a clever idea, and it’s unfortunate that it’s not really useful to me. By the time I have the ability to use them, I don’t really need to use them much. Still. It’s a fun touch, and it does make travel in the last act easier. There is no fast travel otherwise, and while I normally would gnash my teeth over that, it doesn’t bother me so much in this game. Partly, it’s because most of the time, the devs have minimized the amount of travel you have to do for any given murder. Secondly, there is a map, though I still would prefer each room was labeled. Thirdly, I love, love, love the art style, so I don’t mind revisiting old rooms.

In preventing the final death, I had to go back to the reason that all this mayhem was happening, and it was emotionally rewarding to finally be told why I was trying to prevent all this. I also like how the devs dealt with some psychological issues, and I’m being purposefully vague because I really don’t want to spoil the game more than I already have. I’ve already written how I like Lafcadio (Laffy) Boone, my little playable character. The way he earnestly hustles here and there, trying to figure out how to save the guests of the mansion. The reveal as to who he is and why he’s the one trying to prevent the murders is satisfying (and doubly so because I had deduced it), and I actually felt a sense of closure once I prevented the last death.

this cannot be good.

There is a lot of heart in this game. I didn’t realize that I actually cared about the characters and what happened to them until the game ended. I really like the bright, cheerful tone of the game as it’s a break from the dark, gritty games I normally play. The colorfulness only underscores the horrors that are happening, and the pathos isn’t cheapened by the colors and the cheekiness of the game. I have a few collectibles to find, but I’m done with the game itself, and I couldn’t have asked for a better finale. I’ve been pushing this game on Twitter because I love it so much and because it was such a surprise to me. I think it deserves more attention, and I’ll do whatever I can to make it better known. If you like mysteries–buy this game. If you like being a detective–buy this game. If you like adventure games–buy this game. If you live puzzle games–buy this game. If you like colorful cartoon-y characters–buy this game. If you like all of the above, why the hell haven’t you bought this game yet?

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