GAME REVIEW: Indygo

There are many things in the world that I wouldn’t miss if they vanished over night, from the horrendous to the trivial. One thing that sits nearer the horrendous end of that spectrum is depression, and Pigmentum Game Studio’s PC game Indygo aims to tackle that complicated and sometimes messy subject.

The game is set in one location throughout: the studio of Thomas, a painter suffering with depression. He hasn’t left it for months, and his girlfriend Anna is his go-between between himself and the outside world. Indygo uses a point and click system for exploring his room, manipulating the objects inside it and choosing his actions. The room is almost a character in and of itself, the colour subtly changing to reflect Thomas’ mental state, the name of the game itself seemingly a reference to the colour that dominates.

There is a big hidden-object element to the game, the player needing to search the nooks and crannies of the room for relevant items to aid in Thomas’ current goal. This goal will have arisen by way of his journal, or notes and letters that come your way throughout the narrative. You might have to piece something back together again, or decide whether to do something or not, as a couple of examples.

The art-style of the game is lovely, as lovely as anything that paints depression could be. This is joined by a melancholy score and a full English voice-over. As far as the voice-over, it is artfully done but on personal preference, I opted to mute it a short time in, and read the letters and journals myself. This is an option, and is achieved with a simple left click of the mouse each time a new letter or journal entry appears. My own reason for doing this was that, while well voiced and emoted, I found the pace of the words to be too slow for my own personal taste.

Indygo has multiple endings decided by the decisions that you decide to take as the narrative unfolds. While some of these decisions will likely seem mundane to anyone that hasn’t been visited by the black dog, to anyone who has, the implications will probably not be lost. When depressed, even the tiniest of tasks can seem beyond us, so when deciding what to paint or what to listen to, there can be repercussions on mood and energy hours and days later. This plays out in-game in the way that you reply to letters, various options being greyed out because Thomas isn’t in the mood to use that particular reply.

Indygo does feature an “About Depression” item on the main menu, and this gives a reasonable overview of the condition. Upon starting a new game, you will also see a warning about how the game might affect your mood, and the wisdom in taking a break if you feel yourself sliding down the spiral. While the game was melancholy and bleak, I didn’t feel unduly burdened by the story nor the aesthetic, and I am someone who is all too familiar with what depression feels like. It stands to reason that others might not get on so well though, so the warning seems like a good thing indeed.

Indygo won’t take long to play through, especially if you use the hint system. Once you get to the end, you are told that the story isn’t over, and to try again. Subsequent play throughs, once you know the locations of the hidden-objects, can be done very quickly, and boil down to trying different combinations of actions. I think I got the “happy” ending, and the most “unhappy” one, and am still trying various combinations of “doing this but not that” to see what else unfolds.

To say I enjoyed my time with Indygo doesn’t feel the right way to describe things, but I came away feeling that it was a respectful and carefully crafted game that tries to portray one man’s particular reaction to depression and, by way of the gameplay, ends up teaching the player about certain things that aren’t helpful when someone is depressed. It’s not very long, not very cheerful (obviously), but if you have any interest in depression, as a sufferer or an “outsider”, you might want to take a look at Indygo.

Indygo released on Steam on 24th October. You can visit the Steam page at this link.

Rating: 5/5

Reviewer: Casey Douglass

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