Depression Quest was something I played out of vague interest one day, and it really surprised me. As a game, it’s fascinatingly simple; the barest of choices made as the sole main mechanic, but making a lack of choice part of the mechanic and turning the game into a learning tool. I played it twice to date and got the best ending each time, but “winning” in this game obviously wasn’t the point to it.
Depression Quest is important to me because it helped me understand something I never understood before. It successfully put me into the head space of someone suffering from depression, something I barely had any understanding of before, and through the simplicity of its designed game, I felt like I grew as a person. This is a game that taught me something, and I can only say that about very few games in my collection. TWEWY introduced me to sociology theory early, for example, but few other games come to my mind that really got me to realize something new like Depression Quest managed to do in just two hours. The pressure of the condition, the desire for an easy decision that just makes things worse, how few people truly understand the condition; the game really opened my eyes. How the mom interacts with you if you’re honest to her, or how trying to relax only puts you in a worse head space brought up things I never realized. The pain of your own self loathing and the difficulty of dealing with it, along with the well meaning yet ignorant words of your support net cutting into your trust with that person …it’s powerful stuff. It’s also very well written; the generic perspective is kept at a constant, and there’s some good bits of humanity mixed in (as a pet owner, how it feels to just spend a lazy day with your pet was a feeling I knew all too well). There was a lot of life experience poured into this, and it’s helping people learn more about a subject few people even bother to try and understand.
Depression Quest is brilliant for such a small work, and it’s something everyone should play in the right head space. By that, I mean accepting of whatever it has to tell or teach you.