11 Video Games That Deal With Mental Illness

Alice: Madness Returns

Alice: Madness Returns is a psychological horror action-adventure video game developed by Spicy Horse studios and published by Electronic Arts. The game follows Alice from the Alice of Wonderland book in an alternate storyline where she has just be discharged from a psychiatric clinic and decides to go back to the Wonderland in order to find out the truth about who murdered her family however that is not the case as Alice is actually suffering from hallucinations that she is back in Wonderland leaving the player to wonder what is actually a reality and what is just in Alice’s mind.

Fran Bow

Fran Bow is an indie psychological horror adventure video game developed and published by Killmonday Games in 2015 for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS. The game takes place in 1944 and tells the story of a year old girl called Fran who is struggling with a mental health disorder after seeing the violent death of her parents. After her psychiatrist gives her a medicine to treat her problem she begins to suffer from wild hallucinations however they also give her new power allowing her to alter her surroundings through her hallucinations and she goes on an adventure to discover the truth about her families murders.

Ether One

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Ether One is a first-person adventure game developed and published by White Paper Games, the player plays as a ‘Restorer’ who is an employee of a futuristic company that works to retrieve people’s memories, the fictional company is called the Ether Institute of Telepathic Medicine which is the namesake of the game. The player is tasked to retrieve the memories of a 69-year-old woman called Jean Thompson who is suffering from dementia.


Pry is an interactive iOS text-based video game, that allows the player to explore the reality of PTSD among army veterans. The game is actually very well thought out and original, the way it works is that the player is presented multiple pictures and pieces of texts with the player being able to zoom into pieces of the texts in order to open new pieces of information however near the end of the game as the player is looking at videos and images they begin to get blocked out by pieces of the texts and silhouettes of images he has viewed showing a representation of how PTSD is like.

That Dragon, Cancer

That Dragon, Cancer is an autobiographical video game created by husband and wife Ryan and Amy Green and a small studio called Numinous Games. The game is based on the true story of the Green’s son who was diagnosed at twelve months old with terminal cancer and how the two parents managed to cope with the depression and anxiety this caused them. The game received a lot of attention in the press in the United Kingdom and despite a limited budget the game managed to sell very well.

Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is a 2012 third-person shooter video game developed by Yager Development and published by 2K Games in 2012. The game follows protagonist Captain Martin Walker who is an elite Delta Force soldier who has just returned from a catastrophic mission in Dubai which impacts him severely and affects the game as the player progresses Walker’s PTSD gets worse and he starts to realize the horrors of war.

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain is an action-adventure game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The game involves four protagonists who are all trying to uncover the identity of the so-called ‘Origami Killer’, who is a serial killer who uses extensive amounts of rainfall to drown his victims. Two of the characters in the game suffer from mental illness, with one suffering from hallucinations caused by head injuries and emotional trauma wow the other character is suffering from psychosis.

Night In The Woods

Night in the Woods is a single player adventure video game developed by Infinite Fall and published by Finji studios in 2017 for the Xbox One, PS4, Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux with releases on the Nintendo Switch and Android scheduled for 2018. You play as a character called Mae Borowski who is a college dropout who has returned home to figure out what he will do next with his life, the game’s aim is to explore a variety of mental illnesses with most characters the player meets suffering from a mental illness. The game addresses the stigma of mental illness without downplaying and also helps players relate and imagine by using animals as characters instead of humans.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a dark fantasy action-adventure video game developed and published by Ninja Theory studios, the game is inspired by Norse mythology and Celtic culture and follow female protagonist Senua who is a Pict warrior making her way to Viking heaven Helheim in order to rescue her dead lover from the goddess Hela. The game tries to highlight modern issues of mental illnesses that are suffered by protagonsit Senua, but at a time where there is no awareness.

Depression Quest

Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game addressing the topic of depression, the game is developed and published by Quinnspiracy Studios. The game is a very simple and basic game consisting of different decisions trees with the player given choices on how to react and what to say but it is very well thought out.  The game is about a character trying to fight their depression while going about their daily life, the game is free to play and has a ‘pay what you want’ model which allows you to essentially donate money to the developers with part of the proceeds going to the National Suicide Prevention Line in the USA.

The Town Of Light

The Town Of Light is a psychological horror adventure video game developed and published by LKA studios in 2016 for Microsoft Windows, the PS4, the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch. The game is set in the 1940’s on the horrific treatment experienced by patients of mental instituitions at the time, with the game being based around an Italian woman called Renee in Tuscany, Italy. The game tries to raise awareness about mental illness that it is something to be taken seriously and treated appropriately and highlights the ignorance that still goes on even today around mental illness.

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