Video Game: Serena

"We all have our skeletons in the closet...but not Serena. She was perfect."

Intended as a "love letter" to the Kickstarter community, a free, very short yet detailed adventure game. Nightmare Fuel through and through, it tells the story of a man who recently lost his wife, the titular Serena, but is all what it seems in this psychological horror?

Has a lot of support from the old-school adventure gaming community and fans, including former Sierra staffer Josh Mandel, who voiced the protagonist, and Pushing Up Roses, who voiced Serena. Also includes the likeness of adventure enthusiast Serena Nelson, to whom the game is dedicated.

The nature and extremely short length of this game being what it is, it's hard to discuss anything without spoilers, so they're unmarked. Be VERY careful reading!

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Serena contains examples of:

  • Bookworm: The protagonist admits to being this.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: The protagonist, upon discovering a long-dead body, will consider doing this if the rug is clicked on.
  • Character Development: As the protagonist's memories return, he goes from idealizing Serena and being totally in love with her, to being melancholic and missing her, to being furious, bitter and resentful towards her and claiming that he hates her, to finally having a massive My God, What Have I Done? moment where he becomes depressed, and guilt—ridden and almost suicidal and keeps on apologizing to the absent Serena and saying that he did love her.
  • Closed Circle: No matter how often you try, the protagonist refuses to leave the log cabin.
  • Creepy Changing Photo: The one photo of the couple together changes according to what you've remembered
  • Dead All Along: Accumulating evidence suggests that this is the case for the protagonist.
  • Domestic Abuser: Serena has one big mark against her in this category: chucking a frying pan at our protagonist. Also the main character in one of his worst moods describes her as being very manipulative, demanding, and controlling.
  • Jump Scare: Near the end of the narrative, you're finally able to open the closet next to the bed,all seems perfectly normal..until you move the dress. Also if you check the photo afterwards there is another potential jump scare
  • Kill It with Fire: Unless you pick up on the few clues that the protagonist is Dead All Along, it would appear that this is his final fate.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The protagonist knows who he is and is aware that his wife, Serena, is gone from the house, but at first remembers little else, including what his wife even looks like.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Serena is initially described as this.
  • Musical Spoiler: Music is mostly absent from the game, but does play briefly whenever you progress to the next phase/mood shift of the game.
  • Porn Stash: There is a pin-up magazine in one of the bedside cabinets on the protagonists side of the bed.
  • Purple Prose: Not all the time, but the narrator/protagonist has his moments.
  • Shout-Out: Many on the bookshelf.
    • Including "Horton Hears Some Unpleasant Truths About Himself"
    • Under the keyring in the dresser is a newspaper clipping related to the company's upcoming game Video Game/Asylum.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Two appear outside the window towards the end of the game.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: All you know at the beginning is that Serena doesn't seem to be home, and the protagonist is suffering partial amnesia. It's up to the player to explore the environment and find objects to trigger memories and gradually piece the story together and find out what happened.
  • The Ghost: All we ever see of Serena (apart from the photo) is her silhouette.
  • Tone Shift: The game starts out as the protagonist simply wondering where his wife is and thinking of her and the times they've had together fondly. The second moodshift into him being sad/worried and missing her is fairly subtle, then the third moodshift triggers and he suddenly becomes furious and keeps going off on rants whenever you look at anything, and even the colours of the room drain noticeably, and the game takes on a darker tone (literally and mood-wise)
  • Twist Ending: Although you may or may not have doubts already as to whether everything is as it seems before the twist, it's not obvious, but the clues are there if you can find them.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Very much so. Nearly everything he tells us about Serena is either provably false or conflicts with further narration.
    • Possibly justified as most of the changes in description tend to occur after a moodshift, so it could be argued that it's his perception of Serena and their life together that changes, for example his interpretation of her and events is rose-tinted at first but two mood shifts later he flies into a rage and suddenly views/remembers everything including her a lot less kindly.
    • There's also no concrete evidence that the protagonist was completely in the right during his and Serena's (implied) many fights. While it's incredibly doubtful that there was anything he did that warranted his murder, our only glimpse into Serena's side of the story is an angry letter criticizing the protagonist's emotional unavailability. All we have to go on is what he says about their relationship, and since his interpretations were skewed at the beginning of the game...
  • Visual Novel: A Western example.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: There's a lot to go on in this game, but not a lot of explanation; therefore, this is our best recourse.