A Taste of the Past Review (PC)

A Taste of the Past Review: An Emotional Journey through Food, Culture, and Love

a taste of the past

A Taste Of The Past is a storytelling, dialogue-based indie game about a young Chinese American high school student named Mei who has been navigating her grief of losing her mother. In this game, she finds herself on a train with her ancestors who would be guiding her through this grieving process. Available for free on Steam and itch.io, A Taste Of The Past has rightfully earned its Overwhelmingly Postive rating for good reason, as it’s a must play for those who want an emotional journey with light gameplay and heavy — yet important — themes.

Though I knew what the theme was about, I did not expect (or simply underestimated) how emotional I would feel throughout A Taste Of The Past. As someone of Han Chinese descent, I thought I would relate to it based on a shared cultural heritage. While there is certainly that cultural connection, what really connected to my heart the most was the subject of family and love.

Since the passing of her mother, Mei has been wanting to connect more to her mother and her cultural heritage by cooking her mother’s recipe of longevity noodles (長壽麵), something that her mother cooked for her every year on her birthday. Unfortunately, the words in the recipe book are muddled, so Mei can’t really read it. This is where Mei’s ancestors come in to guide her on how to make her mother’s longevity noodles as shown via cooking mini-games.

But of course it is more than that. Like many children of working immigrant parents, Mei has been struggling with feelings of neglect and doubts of her mother’s love due to their limited time spent together. This feeling only amplified more intensely after her mother passed away. Mei’s ancestors, especially her grandparents, explained to her that of course her mother loves her; in fact, everything her mother did was so that she would have a better life. Mei didn’t understand this immediately, but she began to understand this more as she continued her train ride.

a taste of the past

Like many people who have lost their loved ones to death, Mei has been feeling lost and has cried about her mother’s death. There were times she even found herself feeling angry about it. Her ancestors expressed their empathy for how she feels, but also tell her that she is a strong person who can get through it.

In addition, like many teenagers, Mei has been struggling with insecurities and self-doubt. Her ancestors were honest in telling her that this is a common human fear, that “We’re all afraid we won’t be enough, that our loved ones won’t accept us, that we won’t be appreciated. That doesn’t change when you become an adult.” After letting her know that it is a common human insecurity, they reminded her of the most important thing: Her mother feels proud of her and loves her so much.

a taste of the past

Out of everything that has been said, perhaps the most important message for Mei to take away from the conversations with her ancestors is this: “If you want to take one thing from her, it’s to love even when no one’s watching.” This line hits me right in the heart, so much so that I almost teared up. For moral reminders, I’ve always heard of the phrase “Do the right thing, even when no one’s watching.” But to hear a slightly different version in which love is the focus makes this line stand out to me. It’s the quote from this game that I remember the most and I know I would never forget it. And I’m sure neither would Mei. Undoubtedly, Mei’s conversations with her ancestors have been healing for her.

A Taste Of The Past isn’t one of those games that you have to compete with anyone, as there is no winning or losing. Players do get to choose some lines for this dialogue-based game in which it mainly focuses on the conversations between the main character, Mei, and her ancestors, along with some cooking mini-games. But do not underestimate it simply because it is a simple “easy” game. It is a compelling story being told in the artistic format of a game, in which players would either relate to Mei or feel for her as a character. If you are an empathetic person, you would naturally feel for Mei. And if you have been through the painful loss of a loved one, it would definitely hit even harder.

A Taste Of The Past is a powerful, emotional story. Knowing this game was created in just three days leaves me even more impressed. Give A Taste Of The Past a try and get ready for an emotional ride, because you will feel emotion welling up as you get through it. Throughout this experience, you will appreciate the beauty of familial love like the way Mei does now: “I’m hopeful for the future, and all it took was a taste of the past.”

Final Verdict: 5/5

Available on: PC (reviewed):  Publisher: Sondering Studio; Developer: Sondering Studio; Players: 1; Released: March 11th, 2022; MSRP: FREE

Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of A Taste of the Past available for free.

Samantha Ng
My favorite games since childhood are Super Mario and Resident Evil. Two completely different types of games, I know, but I enjoy both just as much. After years of absence from the gaming world due to many years of strict academic life, I have returned to it with the same amount of joy. After all, I have always appreciated the art of video games from the visual to the music. Nowadays, my heart leans toward story focused, dialogue based type of games. Expect to read honest review articles from me on those types of games!

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