Anamorphine

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Anamorphine Game Poster Image
Surreal mental illness trip can be emotionally draining.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

An extended look into the mind of someone spiraling into depression. Can be disorienting, with the subject matter leaving a lasting impact on the player's own emotions for some time.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Only two main characters, Tyler and Elena, with "story" unfolding in Tyler's mind, dealing with the memories of Elena. It's a harsh look at the ways some people cope with their feelings and depression, and not necessarily in a positive manner.

Ease of Play

Limited gameplay, as the story develops around you. Your real task is to act as an observer and explore your surroundings, discovering bits and pieces of events while possibly finding key moments to alter Tyler's mindset.

Violence
Sex
Language

Only a few words of dialogue at the start of the game. The rest plays out in a visual manner without any spoken lines.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References throughout the game that show how some people try to use substances (alcohol, etc.) to deal with depression and anxieties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Anamorphine is a downloadable adventure available for Windows PC and PlayStation 4, and is virtual reality-compatible with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR devices. The game deals with the weighty subject of mental health, particularly themes of depression, grief, and anxiety. It also shows how some people cope with these issues in potentially damaging ways, including but not limited to drinking and other substance abuse. Players take on more of an observer role and explore different sides of the main character's memories, sometimes finding possible ways to change how he remembers certain events.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

ANAMORPHINE is a story about mental health, and how depression and loss can affect anyone, as well as those around us. The game shows how these issues can color lives and memories, all against the abstract backdrop of one man's mind. Tyler and his wife, Elena, seem to be a great love story. The two have been happily building their lives together, until a tragic event forces Elena to give up her passion and her dream. As Tyler sees his wife's emotional state collapse, he finds himself pulled into a darker place as well. Players explore and observe events through Tyler's mindscape, learning more about how events have shaped his state of mind and watching as Tyler's coping mechanisms corrupt not only his well-being, but also his interpretations of events past and present. Will Tyler be able to overcome his depression and move past it to a calmer peace of mind? Or will his grief overwhelm him and cause him to spiral even further into the abyss?

Is it any good?

This adventure game tackles heavy subjects of mental illness, but the technical issues, emotionally draining plot, and repetition make this a rough game to fight through. Anamorphine is a game that walks its own path, tackling heavy real-world issues in a way that feels like a head trip and heartache rolled up in a surreal, abstract package. It's hard to call this a "game" since it's more like a story that unfolds around the player. Make no mistake, Anamorphine might be beautiful, but it's far from cheery. This is a hard look at mental health issues and how they not only affect us, but also those closest to us. Watching Tyler's mental state deteriorate as he watches the love of his life slide into depression is both fascinating and disturbing. You can't help but feel like you're invading something deeply personal. But instead of turning away, you're forced to be more focused in your voyeurism in Tyler's mind. After all, it's only through paying close attention to Tyler's fall that you can gain some understanding and make any kind of change.

Despite the solemn story, Anamorphine deserves credit for trying to address a serious topic. Unfortunately, it suffers from some technical issues that can also dampen the player's mood. For starters, it has ridiculously long load times. This is amplified by the repetitive nature of the story, which makes you constantly revisit some areas to see how they've been corrupted by Tyler's mental state. These interruptions disconnect the player from the overall experience and flow of gameplay. Another issue is when the animation stutters during play. This is bad enough in 2D, but it can cause headaches and disorientation if you're playing through a VR unit. While most gaming experiences are meant to entertain and excite, Anamorphine is one that leaves you drained in the end. It might be uncomfortable and awkward, but then again, so is the depression the game's theme is built upon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mental health. What are some signs of depression and anxiety? How can one person's mental health affect that of the people around him or her?

  • How is the characters' use of alcohol or other substances affected by the emotional issues featured in Anamorphine? Does this seem like a realistic way of handling substance abuse?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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