Formats: Nintendo Switch, (reviewed) PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Publisher: Wired Productions
Developer: Emily Mitchell
Release Date: 14 November 2019
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. What I instantly notice in that sentence is the word ‘common’; many people are suffering, and sometimes in silence. Thankfully, we are slowly but surely starting to talk more about mental health and one brave young woman has certainly made her voice heard.
Emily Mitchell has created a game about her experience with anxiety and depression called Fractured Minds. Whilst developing the game, Emily said that she found the process of it gave her solace which then leads her to win the 2017 BAFTA Young Games Designers award. Although Fractured Minds is initially a personal experience for Emily, it’s also designed to resonate with anyone suffering from all types of mental health issues.
Fractured Minds is a first-person adventure puzzle game that takes a deep dive into the mind of someone who faces challenges from the moment they wake up and get out of bed. The first obstacle I’m faced with is in a bedroom but I can’t get out – I need a key to open the door. When I finally find a key bold, screaming text pops up on my screen to tell me that it’s the wrong key. This happens several times until I thankfully find it and get the hell out. This is a great example of the feelings associated with an anxiety disorder – the racing heart, and feeling like you can’t escape.
As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I felt this part of the game with every bone in my body. It’s a fantastic metaphor into the world of someone wanting to escape their own mind but finding it almost impossible to do so. Throughout the 6 levels, the player will be exposed to sequences that include emptiness, paranoia, agoraphobia and eventually having to face your fear which ends on a fantastic twist.
While exploring each atmospheric and thought-provoking chapter, I came across some scenes that were personally raw to me. Without wanting to give away any of the levels, I will say that one part saw me in a cage underwater whilst trying not to drown and frantically trying to reach the other side. This part especially hit home for me as someone who does struggle with life at times due to constantly trying to keep afloat in my own sea of chaos.
Fractured Minds is a brutally honest presentation of anxiety that marries in some great puzzle designs to help the player gain an insight into this disorder if they haven’t had any previous experience before but for those that do, it offers some comfort into knowing you aren’t alone. Emily Mitchell has done an amazing job of creating an understanding of what it’s like to deal with the inner workings of mental health problems through gameplay while also firmly standing in solidarity with mental health sufferers around the world.
Fractured Minds is available for just £1.79 / €1.99 / $1.99 on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. 80% of proceeds will be donated to Emily Mitchell and Save in Our World who is a video game mental health charity.
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