Depression (Calunio)

This is, in a way, a experimental game… which means I’m not sure if it’s enjoyable, I’m not sure if it’s meant to be, and I’m not sure what kind of reactions it could provoke.[Author’s Description]

[Download for Windows]


  1. How very, very tedious. That’s supposed to be the point, but a game can wallow in tedium and despair without being tedious.

  2. This game isn’t flawless, but I think it’s fundamentally pointed in the right direction. RPGs are well set up to deal with emotional themes: they’ve got persistent characters, a simple progression scheme that designers can manipulate, plenty of genre tropes to play off of, etc. It’s a genre that generates personal attachment.

    This particular game seeds the depression theme into its gameplay, which has been understandably frustrating to some folks. You can make simple accomplishments (saving the village, finding new party members, leveling up), but when the game starts taking those accomplishments away, you feel cheated. Especially when you’re obligated to gain more and more experience to counteract the “curse.” You feel the pressure, you look at your character sheet and start to do the math, and soon your confidence dampens. You flail around a little more, to little effect. Eventually you conclude that you’re doomed to failure because you triggered the curse too much, or wasted too much time in one place when you should’ve been in another place, or whatever else. It’s hopeless, and you have to give up. To me, that’s an excellently realized metaphor.

    Games with themes that antagonize the player are a really tricky balancing act. This game wasn’t super “fun,” and I understand why people don’t like it, but I do have a lot of respect for it.