Psychological treatment has seen significant advancement over the past century as the world has shifted from regarding mental illness as an excuse, to housing people in poorly run asylums, to talking through issues with a psychologist and taking medication to correct chemical issues in the brain.
However, what if it was possible to have someone, quite literally, battle those demons for you? Asylopole takes this premise and paints a vivid picture of what life might look like in a world where psychiatry has evolved to where we can dive into the minds of patients and fight their issues head on.
As nice as that sounds, though, the mind can be quite a horrifying place.
An intriguing look at the future
Despite #Pixoala's world being one that focuses on the treatment of mental illness and protects its citizens with a massive dome (the purpose of which is unknown) one thing has not changed in this future: the abundance of advertisements.
As you can see from this screenshot and others that will be posted throughout the article, neon signs subject inhabitants of the city to various advertisements, somewhat, akin to Times Square in New York City. How that impacts the citizens of this world will most likely be addressed due to the psychological nature of the game.
This scene makes me start to question what kind of culture exists within the world of Asylopole. Presumably, the people of this world naturally speak English for the sake of the audience, but this also aligns with a geological theory that the increased globalization of the world will lead to hybrid languages and lessen the total number of languages spoken in the world.
With that in mind, the exact year of this game has not been established. Nor has the location of this dome city been announced. You'll notice in the image above a sign written in what appears to be an Asian language.
This world is beyond current languages and some sort of hybridization has taken place. I'm definitely more than a little bit intrigued to look into the diversity of this world if only because of how that affects psychological treatment for nonhuman entities or those that may not comprehend English (or the future equivalent).
Those are just a few of many interesting little pieces of the game I've noticed. Perhaps the most notable, to me, is the pivotal positioning of the asylum the protagonist works at.
The tallest building in the title image is meant to represent the asylum, which stands as the focal point of the dome that covers this future city. This says a lot about what kind of world you're inhabiting, as well as what it means to work in that situation.
Despite the suave, super spy dress of your character, its clear that your role is of vital importance to the city. You can rest assured knowing that what you do does have an impact and does have value to the people around you.
I like the focus on mental illness treatment this game sets up for the future because it gives hope that we'll move in a more beneficial direction and away from the stigmas of mental illness. It speaks volumes to the potential for psychiatry even though that message may be lost to the horrors of the game.
A disturbing dose of reality (or lack thereof)
For every utopia, one can expect a disturbing, dreadful underbelly. This scene epitomizes exactly that with all of the trash, the lack of ads and proper lighting, and presumed sign of poverty in the form of the girl huddled around her electronic device.
The area seems to have been forgotten or at the very least neglected and allowed to turn into what could be tentatively referred to as a "slum." It's not to say that such a sight shouldn't be expected in the future, yet it's quite disappointing to have such a harsh reality exist despite continued advancements in psychiatry and presumably other aspects of life.
The advertisement in the foreground also poses an intriguing, but depressing reality: synthetic food. Resources in this world seem to have become so scarce that manufactured food has become the substitute for genuine food.
However, what's more distressing is the fact that people are reassured by the idea that the food is synthetic as opposed to being made from something of a lower, more harmful substitute. If the dome that covers this city's purpose is a survival measure against a harsh outside environment, it would make sense that a scarcity of naturally grown food would be scarce.
From the scenes I've seen, the city you inhabit has a dependency upon electronically based technology and presumably lacks space for agriculture in the way we're familiar with it. These dietary conditions would definitely have an adverse effect on the psyche of people living in this type of world.
Now, I'd like to shift towards the kind of nightmare worlds that can be explored as you enter the psyche of various patients in the game.
Despite a lack of context for this scenario, it can be assumed that this scene is taken from a patient's nightmare that you will be exploring. I'd say that this patient most likely suffers from anxiety in confrontational situations. This would be a theoretical meeting with their boss gone awry, when the boss suddenly became a humanoid insect and sent an army of roaches after him.
How you go about defeating such a nightmare situation is something I can only begin to guess, but it's clear that various horror tropes and phobias will be encountered over the course of this game. For more horrors, check out the exclusive teaser sent to me by Pixoala below!
Interested? Here's how you can play it
This project is set to release in December of 2017. If you're interested in just following the game, visit the Steam Greenlight page.
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Release date: December 2017
Will you dive into the darkness of Asylopole?