Any time a game broaches tough subject matter that affects so many people in real life, that title instantly stands out. It takes a risk and makes players sometimes uncomfortable and yet, playing until the end brings forth so many revelations about humanity and the human condition.
One game along these lines is What Happened, a dark first-person exploration game that focuses on the depression and anxiety of Stiles. He’s an American high school student that obviously is going through a lot.
What Happened is currently scheduled to release this month on Steam, but there are only a couple of days left in the month. It thus might get pushed back. Regardless, a new trailer is out that shows some of the creepy and thought-provoking gameplay.
It starts off showing some of the surreal levels that Stiles will wander about. According to the trailer’s narrator, every level has some unique and otherworldly challenge for Stiles to ponder and conquer.
For example, there’s one sequence that forces Stiles to dodge objects while moving forward. If he gets hit, he’s immediately sent deeper into the dark labyrinth of the unknown. After these chaotic moments, the elements pause. Players can then wander about with less urgency and solve puzzles.
All the while, players will embark on a bigger journey about the trials and tribulations of Stiles’ life. He’s had a troubled past and it’s obvious he’s going through a lot of inner turmoil. The nightmares that now walk about the high school are representations of Stiles’ chaotic life.
The title of the game indicates that something will happen to Stiles, good or bad. You’ll get to decide how the story plays out based on the choices you make. Do you feel for Stiles while he battles his inner demons or do you look the other way and let him deal with his shortcomings alone? These are the choices you’ll have to decide one way or another.
From the unique and interactive environments to the sobering themes of mental stability, What Happened looks like one of the more promising games in the interactive drama space. It has the ability to take players on an emotional journey where they might find similarities in Stiles’ life with their own past experiences.
It’s important that these sort of games come out because in a lot of ways, they’re cathartic. They give gamers the chance to explore weightier subject matter compared to what’s typically put out by developers today.