7 Great Indie Games About Mental Health
Throughout the years, video games have been a source of fun and enjoyment in our lives. They have also been continuing to evolve as time passes on, and we cannot deny that games also tackle some of the real problems that we are encountering in real life through their story and narrative.
As we are in the Mental Health Awareness Month, I think it is a great opportunity for us to create an article about indie games that address mental health. These games that we will list may also depict mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and perhaps even darker themes – you’ve been warned.
Spiritfarer is a management sim where players control Stella, a newly appointed Spiritfarer. She, with the help of her cat, Daffodil, finds and helps spirits as she sails the sea hoping to grant their final wishes before they could move on to the afterlife.
This game is one of the most relaxing games you could ever play, but it also deals with grief and loss, which shows that everything is eventually going to pass, and we have to move on. The spirits you’ll pick up along the way are all unique and have their own stories to tell, which makes it harder to let them go when they are finally at peace and can move on.
This game is a must-play on any platform that you can get your hands on, and if that happens to be the Switch, make sure to get your Nintendo eShop Cards from OffGamers here.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a narrative-heavy adventure game about anthropomorphic animal characters. You play as Mae, a cat, who dropped out of college as she struggled with her mental health issues. She went back to her hometown to reconnect with her childhood friends.
This game tackles so many social tropes such as hanging out with friends, having fun with them, and learning their quirks and problems. However, it also deals with social problems that many people may have experienced such as bullying or having bipolar disorder, and it can get very dark as you play the game.
This game is very relatable, and it is a game that subtly depicts mental health awareness and how someone deals with mental health issues.
Actual Sunlight is a short interactive video game about depression. It depicts a lonely man named Evan Winter, who becomes depressed due to his daily routine and has become very unsatisfied with his life.
This game is more of a visual novel, as it is mostly text-based, but you do control Evan to move from one place to another sometimes. Actual Sunlight has particularly good writing, and it even breaks the fourth wall occasionally.
However, it is definitely not for the faint of heart as it is filled with depictions of depression. This makes it hard to finish at times since it can dive deeper into what can happen if you are experiencing depression in your personal life.
Neverending Nightmares is a horror game where you play as Thomas, who is stuck in a nightmare loop and cannot get out. The foundation or story of this game is heavily based on the game’s lead designer’s experience with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
It plays like a 2D side scroller where you move from left to right and interact with items on the map. The visuals for this game are very memorable as well since it looks like it came straight out of a sketchbook, and some of the nightmarish monsters you encounter are hideous and scary.
The game will make you feel like you are always on edge with its ominous soundtrack and atmosphere. It also features multiple endings, which adds to its replayability factor as the game is quite short.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is probably one of the most popular indie games out there considering how amazingly crafted it is for an indie game from 2017. It is an action-adventure about Senua, a Pict warrior, who embarks on a quest to fight for the soul of her deceased lover.
The game depicts psychosis, which is a condition where an affected person processes information differently. It is a collaborative effort with Ninja Theory, neuroscientists, and people who actually have psychosis to be able to show or allow players to get a better idea of what is happening to someone who is experiencing the situation.
To play this game, it is highly recommended to use headphones as it is essential to fully immerse yourself in the game. You will hear whispers, which will bring out more of the lore and dramatic feel of the game. It is rather creepy at first, but it tries to show you how a person with psychosis experiences such phenomena.
Celeste is a side scroller pixel art platformer game that is quite challenging as it is very similar to Super Meat Boy in terms of difficulty. You play as Madeline as she climbs Celeste Mountain until she reaches the top.
This game in its narrative depicts anxiety, as you struggle your way to the top, the more anxious you get. You will also encounter a doppelganger, which implies Madeline’s self-doubt in her attempt to get to her goal. However, you have to keep going and pushing through in order to succeed.
If you like a challenging platformer game with subtle depictions of mental health awareness such as anxiety, then this is something you should play.
Florence is another story-heavy game where you play as Florence Yeoh, a 25-year-old woman who feels like she is stuck doing endless mundane routines. In our day and age, this game is very relatable.
It is a short game, but it has an incredibly good narrative on how Florence meets Krish and how their relationship grows, then eventually grows apart. The game features mini-puzzles to piece the story together.
In a way, it is similar to Spiritfarer in how it depicts loss, but this time for failed relationships, and that you must move on to heal as there are always new beginnings.
These are the indie games that tackle mental health, and it is great to see more and more developers incorporate awareness of mental health and depict it in video games since many people who are experiencing it have trouble expressing themselves or asking for help.
How about you? Do you have any recommended games that tackle mental health? If you do, then let us know in the comment section below.