Review: For Mother Matron

Review: For Mother Matron

For Mother Matron is a short horror visual novel told from the point of view of a young girl named Lizzy. It begins in the present, with Lizzy desperately trying to remember who she is and what happens to her, and then flashes back to the events leading up to that point. Lizzy lives in a walled city called “The Boarding,” where she and many other children struggle to survive, helped only by their benefactor, known as the Mother Matron.

It isn’t a great life, but Lizzy gets by well enough… at least until she receives the letter that everyone in the city dreads. The Mother Matron needs help, and she’s chosen Lizzy, a somewhat clueless boy named Rich, and an abrasive boy named Pux to venture into the tunnels below the city, known as the Crepuscule. There, they must repair the machinery that keeps the city running, but the Mother Matron warns them that there are monsters down there as well.

For Mother Matron has a disturbing tone right from the start, and everything about its world and presentation builds an increasing sense of unease that something is terribly wrong. Ordinarily, I would have misgivings about the way it occasionally mentions that Lizzy will eventually learn things are much worse than she knows, but since that’s fairly apparent anyway, it doesn’t really harm the tension and saves it from trying to pretend that the situation is normal.

The visual style is interesting, with its world and characters portrayed almost entirely in grayscale that makes the occasional usage of color stand out even more. Together with the unsettling soundtrack, this presentation helps build the game’s dark atmosphere. There is partial voice acting, with key moments being fully voiced, while other scenes have minimal or no voice acting. I found the occasional partly-voiced sections to be a bit jarring, but the voice acting itself is quite good. There are a handful of typos, but nothing that disrupts the experience.

Although there is only a single ending, you do have choices to make—and they aren’t to be taken lightly. Choices in For Mother Matron are timed, with the speed of the timer depending on the situation. The first choice gives you plenty of time to react, but critical life-or-death decisions might force you to react instantly to get the outcome you want. A bad choice results in a game over, but the ability to skip through text you’ve already seen means it doesn’t take long to catch up again.

The story is dark and disturbing, and even if you can predict the general direction things might go in, it’s still creepy to put together the pieces and watch everything unfold. It’s a short visual novel that should only take an hour or two to complete, but it’s well worth checking out if you’re a fan of horror.

You can download For Mother Matron for free from itch.io.

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