The Raven and the Light starts with a car crash. It ends with an almost dream-like ascent to a state of transcendence, narrated by the myth the title describes—a Northwest folk tale. Everything in between thrusts the player into a world that for some will be foreign, but for North America’s indigenous population, is and has long been painfully real.
Your character in this horror game (mostly unseen and unheard throughout) explores a fictional residential school called Mother Mary’s Residential School for Indian Students. Inside, you dodge monsters and creatures while picking up documents (letters, diary entries, and records—also fictional) that tell the story of a former residential-school student—referred to as Sixty-Four—who was raped by Reverend Caldwell (the clerical patriarch of the school). That student is later revealed to be your mother.
Not many video games would dare venture into a subject as touchy as Canada’s dark history of residential schooling and the damage that it inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of indigenous students. They were forcibly taken from their families, enrolled in remote schools, and banned from expressing their language or culture in any way. Many of these students were also physically and sexually abused. The Canadian residential schooling system was historically designed to extinguish indigenous culture and assimilate an entire race into a distinct vision of English Canadian whiteness. It existed in Canada for much of the 19th century and nearly the entirety of the 20th. With the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in 2015, the history of residential schooling is only now beginning to be understood in terms of its human cost.