The Carr family has a secret and it’s darker than yours.
So opens Breeder, a adventure game about three children from the same family spanning multiple generations. Although more than 50 years divides them in total, their stories are startlingly similar: each child has grown up in the same house as the others, each child has extremely neglectful if not outright insane parents, and each child’s room has a boarded up entrance to a labyrinth beneath the house…
Well, not each child. Middle child Marty, telling us his story from the year 1987, finds the entrance open, so he sets out to explore the labyrinth, discovering what appears to be a replica of his house beneath. But, as anyone who’s ever read House of Leaves is well aware, secret basement labyrinths are not exactly child-friendly places to go exploring.
Breeder could be a text game; it relies so heavily on its writing to evoke atmosphere and deliver its message. This is not a weakness, though more graphically-oriented gamers may be put off by the simplistic and unchanging art. What is a weakness is how…very…slowly the three children move. Impatient gamers (like me) may find their attention spans lagging a little as each child crawls through the maze.
If you’re looking for a game where children raze everything in their paths despite their physical limitations, Breeder is not for you. Breeder keeps them to realistic limits; the kids can examine things and move around, interacting with a few, but the emphasis is decidedly put on reading over their shoulders to learn alongside them. If you’re looking for a slow, tightly written and beautifully creepy game, Breeder delivers all that and more.