Mental health awareness in recent years has become incredibly important, and rightly so. All of us at one point or another have struggled with our mental health, and part of the reason why we're so aware of it in 2019 is because of the conversations around the matter. People are opening up about their struggles and conditions like depression and anxiety, which in turn helps others to understand the issues and how to deal with them.
BAFTA Young Games Designer winner Emily Mitchell has contributed to this discussion with a game called Fractured Minds, which has just released on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. Part of the proceeds are going to mental health charity Safe In Our World, and this game is all about Mitchell's own experience with anxiety and depression.
In fact, this entire first-person experience (which shouldn't take you more than half an hour) illustrates the life of someone dealing with conditions such as these in everyday life. You're thrown into several scenarios that show you how difficult basic tasks can be, whether that's because of the expectations thrust upon you by others or the paranoia that might come from being in a large crowd. These are little snippets of gameplay, but they all serve to provide a cohesive message, one that reinforces this idea of a monster within, infecting every part of the sufferer's existence.
In each chapter, you interact with your environment and solve puzzles to progress, but simple tasks are made harder by the player's mind. The first chapter sees you search for a key to unlock a door, for example, but when you grab one of the many keys lying around the message 'wrong key' litters your screen, more and more until it becomes overwhelming.
We won't talk too much about the content, for fear of spoilers, but there are several metaphors in Fractured Mind that illustrate depression and anxiety as well. The inner monologue displayed via subtitles also helps to emphasise how these things can pull a person down, always finding the negative side of situations to make them that much harder.
At the end of there's a message dedicating Fractured Minds to all those who are suffering, and that's the best way to describe this game. Even if an individual can't relate to anxiety or the mental health conditions referenced here, everyone can relate to feelings of loneliness, self-consciousness, and isolation at some time or another.
Because of this, Fractured Minds is a good gateway to empathise with those struggling with their mental health. It's a conversation in itself, and as we've suffered from similar things in the past, we felt that we related a lot with the messages inside. It's an interesting and thoroughly meaningful game and one that should be experienced if you want an insight into some very important topics.
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