Indie developers cover a variety of real life topics when it comes to the themes in their games. Developers sometimes shed light on personal stories, or on feelings that they know well.
Many people struggle with feeling depressed or with depression throughout their lives, so it feels natural that indie developers have made games around that feeling and coping with it.
Listed below are some very well made games that have themes of depression as well as overcoming its negative impacts on your life.
Fairy Tales of Innocent Children
#FairyTalesOfInnocentChildren deals with the death of someone close to you. You are a young child, one who still believes in Santa Claus and whose mother has died. Your father didn’t really explain death to you and instead told you that your mother became a star. You miss your mom, and naturally you want her to come home. So when you see a falling star in the sky, you chase after it in the hopes of finding where it landed.
There you don’t find your mother, but instead a girl who is fighting demons on her own. This person might not say all the right things to you, but if you let her help, you will come to a realization about your mom’s death and you both end up much happier in the end. You should listen to her story and let her help you with your character’s own problems.
The Light Ahead
#TheLightAhead is a short, personal story made for a game jam. You are following a straightforward path while words fly by you, telling you what is going on. At first, you are displayed as a scribbled mess — with lines moving around as you walk.
Sometimes, rays of light show you the path ahead or drive you to continue in the dark. Other times, you will be engulfed in darkness with no light to be found. That time in the light however, can make the time in the darkness feel like it’s passed forever — it can motivate you to find the light again.
This game is short, but it's very uplifting and enjoyable to explore.
I’ve Been Late
You start off away from people, on your own, unable to join them. You keep your distance and feel that it’s better to avoid them. Sometimes you even choose staying in bed over seeing them at all.
Slowly, you start to make steps towards being with others — just a short conversation, or some time spent around people. Even though these steps are small to most, you are overcoming a big hurdle — something that was originally terrifying to you becomes increasingly less frightening. It becomes almost craved by you. It’s okay to be late, as long as you get there in the end.
I Love the Rain
#ILoveTheRain is another short narrative, this time touching on how you feel about rain. You are just trying to get some stuff done today — some work you have been putting off, but it is a continuous struggle.
At the end of the game, there are a couple of notes from the author, encouraging you to continue and to remember that tomorrow will be a better day.
Even though today may seem like a struggle, your life is full of tomorrows and tomorrow you can try again. This game ends on a very personal, touching note from the author, which made me smile.
#PRISONED has you learning about a person struggling with loneliness and depression.
You are playing as Judy, someone who has been very lonely for a while now. You are able to explore your life history through photos and memories. Some of these memories are positive while others are negative, but they are all a part of your story. Some happy memories are slightly sad to look at, reminding you of the happiness in your past, but things are different now, so you must move on.
This game is short in its current state, but each piece of this game gives you a memory. Can you help Judy get out of her current state of mind? It might just be a long road.
#Robin is a game about managing your long weekend. You have taken three days off of work in hopes that you will be able to get everything done around the house and hopefully have some fun in order to get you motivated for the week.
You have been feeling lethargic lately, unable to do things — you went to the doctors but they couldn’t find anything too wrong with you. So now, you just need to survive your long weekend before going to work. There are many things that you can do — chores such as feeding your bird, doing the dishes, working on your novel, watering your plants or picking up your clothes.
There are needs that you have to take care of, like showering and eating, as well as enjoyable activities like reading and using social media. Each day you have a very limited amount of time before you become exhausted, so you must prioritize wisely what you need to do before you go to bed.
At night, if you haven’t done something of importance, you will reflect on it, or it may disrupt your sleep. If you do manage your weekend well enough, you will have a great start to your week. This game has three different endings and an important message.
When you have a long weekend to yourself and you have work that needs to be done, there has to be a balance. There have to be some essentials to take care of yourself and also some activities that are just for you. Even if you aren’t feeling well enough to get all your work done, remember to take time out for yourself.
All of these games are tastefully made — many of them show personal stories and a window into someone’s life. Seeing games like this, particularly ones that deal with a subject like depression, can help to show that you are not alone if you feel this way or suffer from depression. Many of them end on uplifting notes and reflect the personal stories of people with similar issues.
If you are struggling with depression, please make sure you do get help from a professional.