As a kid, I sometimes played odd games I found on the internet or watched playthroughs of them. Most of these were RPG Maker horror games because something about mixing cute art styles with terrifying imagery and plots resonated with a young me.
The Coffin of Andy and Leyley is probably the first title to take me back to this oddly specific point in my life. Since playing the first two episodes, I can’t get it out of my head.
The game follows siblings Andrew and Ashley Graves as they hatch a plan to escape the apartment they’re trapped in. Along the way, they develop a taste for human flesh, and it’s quickly clear that both are monsters.
It’s a well-written exploration of a toxic sibling dynamic and a revolting experience. I hesitate to call it trashy because it almost always balances its grim tone well, but some players do think certain moments take it too far.
The Coffin of Andy and Leyley is arguably a case of content warnings needing more specificity, even if the existing ones already cover most of the ground. Be warned, there will be spoilers for The Coffin of Andy and Leyley‘s first two episodes.
Cannibalism and manipulation galore
What attracted me to The Coffin of Andy and Leyley is it stars two terrible people. I love following toxic protagonists doing deplorable things, and having a cute art style as a filter sells me on about anything.
Despite the subject material dealing with cannibalism and the occult, The Coffin of Andy and Leyley is surprisingly not graphic. Low-pixel detail obscures the worst of it, and the protagonists’ banter takes away from the fact they eat people. There also is not much actual cannibalism since Andrew and Ashley only eat three people during the first two episodes, with the first being out of desperation as they spent weeks without food.
It also allowed the game to focus on making the main dynamic its most unsettling part. What’s clear from the get-go is how manipulative Ashley is over Andrew, who’s basically her doormat. Even when they were kids, her outbursts quickly stamped out the tiny resistance Andrew put up with his sister’s demands. Whatever Ashley wanted to do, Andrew eventually got behind.
This culminates in the first episode by revealing in a flashback that they trapped a girl their age in a crate as kids. Her asthma was already acting up in the dusty warehouse, with the trap all but guaranteeing her death. While Andrew attempted to stand his ground, one tantrum from Ashley made him stand down.
This flashback also demonstrates how odd the vibes between the siblings are. Ashley’s possessiveness over Andrew boils over whenever a girl takes an interest in him romantically. She only harbored such hate towards the girl they trapped because she was interested in Andrew. A general fear of abandonment is a plausible reason for these feelings, and Andrew does seem done with Ashley. Nothing more can come from this, right?
Jesus, Andrew, THAT’S YOUR SISTER
Much of the discussion surrounding The Coffin of Andy and Leyley concerns how the siblings’ relationship evolves. The second episode gives greater insight into their mental states and further shows Andrew to be less of a victim than initially expected.
While Ashley’s feelings toward her brother appear as obsessiveness over not losing him, Andrew exhibits romantic interest in his sister. This became apparent when, after asserting himself as “Andrew” instead of “Andy,” he looked from Ashley’s eyes to her mouth. It’s a tiny detail that made me wince.
It’s not as if these feelings are new since a flashback shows a conversation about Ashley between Andrew and his ex, Julia. Not only does he easily lie about how Ashley operates, but he asks Julia to tie her hair back. While not explicitly stated, the context highly implies he prefers it when his girlfriend resembles his sister.
Ashley reciprocates these feelings to some extent, as one of the possible visions shows both after hooking up. The game gives a warning before pursuing this route, and rightfully so. I knew this was coming, but seeing it unfold made a part of me die inside.
This aspect is undoubtedly the most controversial element about The Coffin of Andy and Leyley, and I understand why. While cannibalism is a taboo subject, it’s present in mainstream games like Fallout as an option for players. Having incestuous themes crosses over into Drakengard territory, and even then, no option allows Caim to reciprocate Furiae’s feelings for him.
While a small part of the overall experience, it being a possibility has overtaken discourse on The Coffin of Andy and Leyley. I’m going to hate saying this with every fiber of my being, but the route fits within the game’s tone.
Toxic codependency taken to the absolute extremes
The Coffin of Andy and Leyley is about a sibling relationship taking its codependency to an absurd extreme. Its content is presented with a mix of comedy while being genuinely unsettling. If the writing was weaker, its subjects could have been handled with the tact of something like Mogeko Castle, another RPG Maker horror game whose handling of sensitive topics comes off as tone-deaf.
The Coffin of Andy and Leyley‘s focus remains on the siblings on the run and doing various deplorable things. Potential shifts in their dynamic are player-dependent, but whatever path they go on, the leads always remain fun to watch. This might say a lot about me, but I chuckled a few times while playing. Seeing Ashley almost entirely botch disposing of her parents’ bodies is a scene equally as disturbing as it is funny.
Whatever tone a scene has, this constant uneasy feeling permeates each section. The tension is more evident in some scenes, but it always feels like things are about to go horribly wrong. An example of what I mean is when carrying their parents’ skulls up a hill, the plastic bag they’re in breaks. They roll down as the leads watch in horror.
Depending on the route chosen, the tone can become jovial, but regardless of prior choices, it’s a tense scene. It lingers long enough on the skulls rolling down. I kept thinking that someone was bound to come across them. While not necessarily a scary scene, it puts the lingering dread at the forefront.
Still, an additional content warning with spoilers might help better inform them on whether they’ll remain interested in a game featuring leads who killed another child in their youth and potentially form an incestuous relationship. As disgusting as cannibalism is, it’s not an uncommon taboo to explore, but incest is another ballpark, especially in games.
Since not all the content is out, I can’t fully recommend The Coffin of Andy and Leyley yet. The last episode could be a disaster for all I know. I certainly hope that’s not the case because what’s present currently, I think, is enjoyable, and I believe it has the potential to be a cult classic.
The leads are despicable people, but so is almost everyone else in their world. As twisted and manipulative as Andrew and Ashley are, at least they always have a funny comment ready, no matter how inappropriate the scenario.
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Eugen Boglaru is an AI aficionado covering the fascinating and rapidly advancing field of Artificial Intelligence. From machine learning breakthroughs to ethical considerations, Eugen provides readers with a deep dive into the world of AI, demystifying complex concepts and exploring the transformative impact of intelligent technologies.