Depression Quest

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Depression Quest on Steam

MSRP: Free

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux

Release: 8/11/14

I love the fact that “games” like Depression Quest exist, almost as much as I hate the fact that there’s a need for these kinds of interactive fictions.  I put the word games in quotation marks because there you won’t find any fun here.  If you are someone who’s never really experienced depression, you might find it educational.  If you are currently dealing with depression, or suspect you might be, you may even find it somewhat therapeutic, and even still, the focus is rather narrow – the protagonist is a twenty-something suffering from depression, and depending on the choices you make, may or may not be attempting to deal with.

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If you think that sounds bleak, well, it is. From my experiences with depression, it frequently feels spot on, and explains things that I have felt in the past pretty accurately.  Most of the time, I have my depression pretty well managed, so I was able to choose options that I know to be healthy – however, the game makes sure to give you plenty of unhealthy options which allow you to explore some pretty dire what ifs.

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Frequently, when presented with a set of options, one or more of them is red and has a strikethrough.  Personally, I liked the fact that these options, that seem completely rational and possible to a healthy mind, are shown as something the protagonist is, at that moment, totally incapable of. Depression doesn’t mean not knowing what the best thing to do is – which is what leaving these options off entirely might have indicated. It means you just can’t, and I think that’s a fantastic way to represent that.

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A play through takes roughly half an hour provided you don’t agonize over your choices for too long, and the game might be to upsetting to play through for someone who is trying to deal with their own depression.  Still, I would recommend this to people who have loved ones who they suspect or know to be suffering from depression.  Give up an hour and play it twice – feel free to choose the options that make the most sense to you the first time, and then go deep into the rabbit hole on your second pass. Depression Quest manages to make depression relatable, and you can’t put a value on that. It’s certainly worth 60 minutes of your time.

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