=Hey Blerdy Tribe, it’s Melanin Monday here on Blerdy Otome and that means I’m spotlighting another Melanin Friendly Game! For those of you just joining the party—every Monday I spotlight games that feature black and brown characters for anyone looking for titles with just a bit more representation. As a blerd and a gamer, I am always on the lookout for representation in my games. This is largely a personal project for me—there are almost no “diverse game” tags on major game sites—so, it can be pretty difficult find games with characters of color… unless you already know where to look.
This week, I’m spotlighting the sci-fi mystery visual novel, Xenopathy from Marine Dateologist, a collaborative team made up of indie developers PMscenarios, Bob Conway, and SoulofEA. The game was originally created over two months as part of the 2018 Yaoi Game Jam, and currently only the first part is available. Xenopathy is described as a hybrid romance-mystery, taking place in the future, where humanity has taken to the stars. There they encounter the Ishin, a race of alien symbiotes who can temporarily share a body with a willing host. In the game you play as one of these symbiotes—their first host is a shy bio-engineer named Axton, who is hoping his new alien companion can help give him the courage he needs to confess to his crush. Things don’t go as planned and when the alien bonds with their second host, this time with more darker intentions.
This game kind of flew under the radar for me, which is surprising since it combines a lot of the things I love—sci-fi, mystery, boys love, and a primarily POC cast. The main premise is definitely interesting and forgive me for saying this, but it reminds me a bit of that Stephanie Meyer book, The Host. While that story was lackluster at best, I found myself really enjoying the way the host/symbiote relationship was handled here. There is also a whole system surrounding the symbiote relationship with actual laws and regulations that participants must adhere to.
Axton initially signs up to be a host in hopes that the symbiote (who he later names Seventeen) can give him the confidence he needs to confess to his crush Bethan. It’s a cute reason and it’s nice to see more of a mutually beneficial arrangement between Axton and Seventeen than the usual “hostile” alien trope we see so often in media. Granted, there are some who openly oppose the host/symbiote relationship and while their methods aren’t the best their concerns are valid.
Xenopathy focuses on the growing pains of the relationship between Seventeen and Axton. With the symbiote having to learn to adjust to being in a human body—simple tasks like walking or picking up objects become much more difficult as they rely on coordination between the host and the symbiote. I love the way they depict the dual consciousnesses of the host and the symbiote, even though they share one body, Axton and the Seventeen are presented as two distinct characters/personalities. Axton is friendly towards his new companion, even going out of his way to explain certain aspects of human behavior to the symbiote. While Seventeen can be either curious about the events going on in the game or impartial depending on your choices. It is through them that we experience the story and it feels more genuine that way, since we’re just as unfamiliar with the world as they are.
Xenopathy is only the first installment in a much longer game, but it’s a great start. The story sets up some really great world building and I really enjoyed the interplay between the characters. The story leaves a lot of things up in the air, which will most likely be explored further in future installments (which I am totally looking forward to).
Thank you for reading and supporting Blerdy Otome! Have you played Xenopathy? Share your thoughts! Got a Melanin Friendly Game you think I should spotlight? Send it to me! 🙂
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