The blurb for Jim’s Grim Story tells it all:
Jim’s Grim Story is a topdown psychological pet collection game by Daedalus Games. The player controls Jim, a misunderstood child in Abbey, a small town just south of the big city. Jim feels neglected and even discriminated by the townsfolk of Abbey, and the player finds pets for Jim to befriend. The psychological aspect reveals that Jim is slowly killing the townsfolk’s pets and, eventually, the townsfolk themselves to decorate his bedroom.
Most of this isn’t exactly treading new ground. The game is landing somewhere between Silent Hill, Spec Ops: The Line, and You Were Hallucinating The Whole Time. The game slowed my computer to a crawl, and a level failure caused the game to glitch out and prevent me from continuing without starting all over.
Behind all of that, there’s something really amazing. You see, I really love games that take you into these very personal encounters with NPCs. Jim’s parents are half-real, presenting a strange and horrible domestic abuse, and this is all revealed to you through these intensely avoidant scenes of closeness.
Unlike Jim’s room, we don’t get to see where Jim is in relation to his parents in physical space. We know that there’s an NPC there, it must exist, it is speaking, and yet there’s no way of reconciling the actual physical relationship. There’s a black void (a black avoidance) that holds portraits in space while Jim passively listens to these competing, abusive figures.
Michael Lutz’s My Father’s Long, Long Legs (purposefully?) plays with this absolute lack of knowledge on our part. We can’t fix it, we can’t fix these characters in space, and so they become infinitely more creepy. They live, but they live outside of our reckoning; they are and we are are their mercy.