Ethereal, a melancholy platformer about death and copingThomas Finch on Death, Platforming, and Ethereal

with Greg Micek

Most independent videogames are labors of love, and plenty come from a very personal place within the heart of the developer.  Ethereal, from Thomas Finch, is a whole other story though.  What at first appears to be yet another indie platformer is a very personal tribute to Thomas’ late father.  In addition to a heart breaking back story, Ethereal features a number of unique gameplay elements that could allow it to stand out to those less concerned with personal tales of woe than they are with playing a great game.


Cliqist :  Hi Thomas!  How goes it?  Excited about the Ethereal Kickstarter?

Thomas Finch : Things are great! I’m very excited but also extremely nervous. This is probably the most stressful time of my life!

Ethereal, a melancholy platformer about death and coping

Cliqist :  Why are you asking for my money?

Thomas Finch : Well there’s a simple answer to that: I need it! I’ve been paying the bills with the help of family/friend investments the past six months and the well is running dry as you can understand. Kickstarter is a great way to find the people most interested in the game and get them involved in the project. The goal is pretty low because I don’t want to ask for more from people than is necessary to complete the game.



Cliqist :  What’s Ethereal?

Thomas Finch : Ethereal is the story of a spirit reliving his most traumatic memories. It’s about letting go of the past. To me, Ethereal is a memorial to my father.

Ethereal, a melancholy platformer about death and coping

Cliqist :  Don’t we have too many platformers already?  What makes Ethereal different?

Thomas Finch : I do agree there are a lot of platformers. It is definitely a go-to genre for beginner game developers, which I am. What I think really separates me from the rest is the atmosphere, the theme and the fact that it’s based on a true story. I’ve also noticed that the majority of indie platformers I see are all about one specific thing the player can do. In Ethereal, there are seven different abilities you use throughout the game. That will really open up the level design and make it feel less repetitive.



Cliqist :  My condolences on your father’s death.  It’s a pretty heavy subject to base a game off of.  What drove you to do the game?

Thomas Finch : Thank you. My father passed away nearly 7 years ago and ever since I’ve wanted to do something as a sort of memorial to him. His life was always very interesting to me, because he went through so much but never took it out on anyone else. I think he deserved to have people hear his story and understand what he went through.


Ethereal, a melancholy platformer about death and coping

Cliqist :  Is it difficult to work on the game sometimes?  I imagine it could bring up some pain.

Thomas Finch : Actually, it’s usually the opposite. It’s been a little helpful. As I said, his death was a long time ago. I still miss him, of course, but the mourning period has long passed. Making a game that I feel he’d be proud of makes me feel better. I will say it was pretty weird asking my artist to draw his corpse on the cabin floor though!



Cliqist :  You seem to be really pushing for Ethereal to be available in as many languages as possible.  What’s the driving force behind that?

Thomas Finch : I am a huge lover of language in general. I’ve always felt that any game I develop I’d like to be available in as many languages as possible. A big factor though is the fact that Ethereal is really not very text-heavy. It’s been very easy for me to find people willing to translate the game on a volunteer basis.





Cliqist :  There’s a lot of scams and broken promises on Kickstarter.  What kind of assurances can you offer backers that you’ll deliver on your promises?

Thomas Finch : I think the fact that it’s based on my own father’s life and death should really help backers understand I will not give up on this game. There is never any way to guarantee things will go as planned, but it’s extremely important to me that this game be something my dad is proud of. I don’t want to disappoint backers, because I don’t want to disappoint my own father.


Ethereal, a melancholy platformer about death and coping

Cliqist :  Can you close us out with an Ethereal inspired haiku?

Thomas Finch : Oh, I’m pretty bad at poetry of any kind, but let me try…

When bereft of life

You must not hold on so tightly

It’s time to move on


Thanks to Thomas for taking the time to answer my questions.  If you’d like to learn more about Ethereal, or even back it, you can head over to the Ethereal Kickstarter campaign.  You can track the progress of the Ethereal Kickstarter by heading over to our Campaign Calendar.


Greg Micek

Greg Micek

Editor at Cliqist
Greg Micek has been writing on and off about games since the late nineties, always with a focus on indie games. He started in 2000, which was one of the earliest gaming sites to focus exclusively on indie games.
Greg Micek


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Greg Micek
Greg Micek
Greg Micek