Depression Quest

Depression Quest is a short but wordy browser game. I’d strongly recommend it, with the caveat that it should be avoided if reading about someone trapped in a depressive spiral sounds like it’d just get you depressed.

The degree to which it’s a “game” is pretty limited, but it works as a narrative you get invested in. At each page, you read another bit of the story, followed by picking several choices. Eventually, you reach the end. Depending on how depressed the character is, some or even most of the choices will be unavailable. This limits your impact on what happens, but I thought it was a really striking illustration – after picking several bad options to find out what would happen, I ended up trapped for a while with no options but to plod along miserably to the next section and hope eventually things would get better. I felt the writing did a wonderful job of conveying how the character felt – this isn’t a dramatic story, but an ordinary one of an ordinary person surrounded by other ordinary people who don’t understand what’s happening or know the right solution. And I liked how it struck a balance of not having easy solutions while still showing that there was hope.

9 Comments

  1. sliz225 says:
    It’s nice to give this game some crap-free attention. I’ll have to check this game out.
    1
  2. actonthat says:
    I’ve very much wanted to play this game, but I feel like even when I’m not having any issues it would be a huge trigger.
    1. Farla says:
      It was not a happy game, though it avoids being crushing as well. I think it’s really aimed at education – if you’re depressed but don’t realize it, hopefully you recognize when the character says the same things, and if you’re not depressed and don’t understand why depressed people can’t just realize how good they have it, hopefully you’ll know better at the end.
  3. SpoonyViking says:
    It’s games like this that make me think I’m being too stubborn and conservative by having difficulty accepting videogames as a form of art. It was certainly an educational experience!
    1. Farla says:
      :D I think there’s something particular to interactivity that changes how you process the story.
      1. SpoonyViking says:
        Indeed! It’s a shame more games don’t take advantage of that. Several of them (though I’m more familiar with action games) even actively shock you out of the interactivity process with gimmicks like cutscenes where your character suddenly gets beat up by the boss you’ve been handling just fine during gameplay, all because he has to lose to advance the story.
  4. Katrika says:
    I’m struggling with depression right now (in therapy, on medication, supportive family), and I gave it a look. It’s definitely a bit simplified and not everyone has access to those options, but it hit the tone pretty well and on my first play-through I was able to get my character help, and a cute cat. Besides, with depression, the biggest problem isn’t necessarily having resources available, but convincing yourself to try those resources, at least in my limited experience.
    1. Farla says:
      I think the reason it made sure the character had access to a therapy and medications is both to encourage people using what they have and to push that people need access to those things – there’s no reason why, in most countries, medication and therapy should be hard for already suffering people to get.
      1. Katrika says:
        Yeah, I agree. Those options should be open to everyone, for sure! And honestly, if they hadn’t been in the game, people would have complained about /that/. And the range of endings would have been a lot smaller, I imagine.

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