Depression Quest – PC
Developer: Zoe Quinn
Publisher: Zoe Quinn
Release Date: February 14th, 2013
Genre: Interactive Fiction
Nerd Rating: 4.5 out of 10!
I must start this review of Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest by stating that this review has nothing to do with the recent scandal associated with Zoe Quinn and all personal feelings for her have been put aside; my only focus is to give this game a legitimate review. If you haven’t heard of it by now, Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game that tries to tackle what it’s like to have depression and puts you into that position through text and choices. While many people don’t see Depression Quest as a game, it was greenlit onto Steam and you can play it, therefore I am counting it as a game.
As someone with past experience of depression as well as knowing and helping many people get through depression, I admire what Zoe Quinn tried to do with this title. However, I don’t really feel like she succeeded at the job she attempted to do. Depression Quest fails to capture what depression really feels like. While I will admit that it comes close, I just feel like it doesn’t capture enough. I don’t know if Zoe Quinn has ever been depressed, but unless she has or is a doctor, I don’t think she is qualified enough to develop a game like this.
The gameplay of Depression Quest is extremely simple. The game plays out like a interactive novel, but instead of flipping to a certain page you are choosing one of a few options. The “good” choices are crossed out due to your depression, but some of theses “good” choices are the ones I would’ve made in real life, with or without depression. These choices being locked sort of made it so I was less immersed in the story which made it less enjoyable then it would have been otherwise.
While the game was 90% text, there were a few pictures in the background every now and then. These background pictures usually had to do with what the text was talking about, and they were in black and white which I assume was to further depict depression. Some of the pictures were very unclear and hard to make out, and I tended to simply look past them and not even notice. I feel like the pictures did nothing to improve the game and were just unnecessary.
The music of Depression Quest is very immersing and I would say it is the most immersive aspect of the game. However immersive it may be, the music was sadly repetitive and got boring quite fast. There were very few other sounds in the game, but there were indeed a few. These other sounds included things like door-knocks and footsteps that were created using an online soundboard which is credited in the game ending.
While I understand that the main point of Depression Quest was to raise awareness for depression, it did very little to teach people about depression. I find it odd that the game was added to steam shortly after Robin Williams’ suicide, and I feel like this was a tactic that abused Robin Williams’ and his fan’s situation in order to promote the game, free or not. While the developer definitely had good intentions, I feel that she simply failed what she tried to do and I don’t think she was qualified to develop this game. I welcome more games like this into the gaming industry, but a point-and-click adventure could’ve done better to represent depression then a simple story that would’ve been better off as a book.
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