Lieve Oma is a game in which you hunt for mushrooms with your grandmother beneath trees saturated with autumnal colors. It’s also about how a simple conversation can indicate so much more about a relationship, where the words unsaid echo as much as those spoken aloud. Following your grandmother along the winding path, as you search for a blue heron or consider the smell of the pine, her questions about your happiness tease out hidden anxieties about fitting in with a new school, and your parents’ divorce.
My grandmother is probably the most important person ever to me, as she provided me with the stability and care a child needs growing up. We all have or have had people helping us become a responsible and caring person, and this short narrative game is an ode to these people.
Veltman has previously worked on games like The Endless Express in 2014, about waiting for a train. Meaning roughly “dear grandma” in Dutch, Lieve Oma only takes about half an hour to play, and as a game only asks you to click through dialogue and keep moving forward, first with a quick gait alongside your grandmother’s slow pace, then later with heavy footsteps through winter snow when you return on your own. Soft piano music plays, and the mushroom collecting is secondary to the dialogue (and also has some awkward controls, or maybe I’m just not cut out for digital mycology).
Aerial views give the basic graphics a majestic atmosphere. Veer off the path, though, and you’ll find only blankness, as if hedged in by your memory. Lieve Oma might be about Veltman’s personal experiences with his grandmother, but it will likely resonate for anyone who has had someone in their life who was able to listen in ways that no one else could.