Mother Tongue by Nell Raban
This was a really touching entry. At a glance, it’s just a text conversation between your character (a second-generation Filipino immigrant) and their mother, but the simplicity lends it a sense of genuineness: it’s not trying to do anything fancy, it’s just putting you into someone else’s shoes for a little while.
The conversation explores the weirdness that comes with being a second-generation immigrant who feels disconnected from their family’s heritage and language, in this case Tagalog. As a British-born Chinese woman (who can sort of speak Mandarin but certainly not fluently), the themes rang very true for me. It’s really great to see a story like this being told through IF, and as a welcome bonus to an already lovely playing experience, I now know a couple of words of Tagalog!
A lot of the things the player character said felt very relatable. I think it’s easy to feel somewhat alone or “in limbo” as a second-gen immigrant, and like your heritage feels distant and at times almost unimportant, so it was affecting to see the player character express a similar sentiment by saying they didn’t really “feel Filipino”. There’s a strange guilt that comes with it, and I think this game gets that across nicely.
At one point the mother sends a message entirely in Tagalog that the player character has no hope of understanding - definitely had that happen to me with my mother and Mandarin. Another memorable moment was when the mother says “I didn’t want you to grow up with an accent” (to which the protagonist appropriately responds “that’s depressing”). So it’s not only the player character’s PoV you come to appreciate, but the parents’ too, and the choices they make all to try and ensure their children have the best life.
It is a short game so it doesn’t have time to go into a lot of depth, but it does a great job of touching on interesting points. Choices are sprinkled in at a nice frequency to keep you engaged as the player (there’s enough variety to create some replay value too), and the voices of both characters were distinct and believable. You can also sense the slight tension and distance in the relationship at times, which I really liked - definitely adds to the realism.
To tie up: this is lovely little gem of a game that will no doubt speak to many people with similar experiences, and I can also see it appealing to people who don’t normally play IF but are interested in the themes it explores.