Video games offer a unique platform for storytelling, providing interactive experiences that can evoke empathy and understanding in ways that other forms of media can’t always achieve. They offer players the opportunity to step into the shoes of another, experiencing life from a different perspective. Increasingly, developers are harnessing this unique medium to explore complex and nuanced topics like mental health. Through compelling narratives, rich character development, and innovative gameplay, these games are breaking down barriers and start important conversations about mental health issues.
In this list, we will highlight ten video games that have made significant strides in exploring mental health issues. These games tackle a wide array of topics, from depression and anxiety to PTSD and grief. They approach these subjects with sensitivity and care, offering not only an entertaining gameplay experience but also an insightful look into the complexities of mental health. Each game provides a different perspective on mental health, making for a diverse and engaging collection of experiences.
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of short stories about a cursed family. Several stories deal with themes of mental health, including depression and suicide, through an engaging narrative and innovative gameplay mechanics.
Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game which represents the experience of depression. The game aims to provide insight about depression and its effects on people's lives.
Gris is a serene platformer that uses its art, music, and gameplay to illustrate the stages of grief. It's a journey of a young girl dealing with a painful experience in her life, symbolically representing the complexities of mental health.
Celeste is a critically acclaimed platformer that tells the story of Madeline, a young woman battling anxiety and depression, symbolized through her quest to climb a mountain. It explores themes of resilience and self-acceptance.
Sea of Solitude
In Sea of Solitude, players navigate a world where emotions manifest as monsters. It is an exploration of loneliness, depression, and the impact of these issues on personal relationships.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods revolves around Mae, a college dropout returning to her hometown, who battles with depression and dissociation. The game is lauded for its candid and relatable depiction of mental health struggles.
The Cat Lady
The Cat Lady delves into the protagonist Susan's struggle with depression and suicide. Its mature narrative and eerie atmosphere make for a unique exploration of mental health.
Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller adventure game that subtly explores themes like grief, loss, and guilt through its teenage characters and their dialogue-driven interactions.
Life is Strange 2
Life is Strange 2 addresses multiple mental health issues, including PTSD and depression, through the story of two brothers on the run. The game showcases the impact of these conditions on the characters' decision-making and relationships.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice follows the journey of a Pict warrior, Senua, who suffers from psychosis. The game was developed in collaboration with neuroscientists and mental health specialists, offering an intense and sensitive portrayal of the character's mental health struggles.