A scary up-close view of one of the most widespread epidemics in the Western world.
Ode to a Nightingale – John Keats
So this title dropped around a week ago and although it wasn’t a particularly long game, it is a very good one. The game focuses on mental illness and the effects of mental illness and how stigma could worsen it. It shows you the beautiful side of supportive loved ones and the ugly nightmarish side when it is neglected and rejected. The developers for this game put a lot of effort into researching and depicting mental illness as accurately as possible which is very respectable. Overall, although this wouldn’t count among the best of games for graphics or game mechanics or the novelty of the story, it is something more than that: it shows the everyday reality of hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are and in the future, will suffer from mental illness.
The main character, Senua, is a young warrior from a Celtic tribe amidst the Viking invasions into what is modern-day England and the British Isles. You experience the game through her perspective, hearing the same voices she hears in her head, seeing the same visions she sees and gets scared when she gets scared. It struck a deep chord in me as someone who totters on the edge of darkness albeit I have a milder condition than her. The premise of the game is to retrieve the soul of her lover who had died. She arrives at the entrance to Helheim in hopes of bargaining with the Norse goddess of death, Hela. As she goes on her quest, she is plagued by flashbacks and spectres from her past. Her memories hold her back and the runes of the gods block her way. Through it all, she perseveres, believing that any sacrifice is worth it to get her lover’s soul back.
Without getting too much into the details of the story, we basically see her despair and her desperate hope while we play throughout. She has psychosis which is a mental condition characterised by a disconnect from reality. Symptoms include hallucinations (both visual and auditory), paranoid delusions and the general inability to perceive what objectively is true. She also shows signs of paranoid schizophrenia which has many symptoms that overlap with psychosis.
The game shows you visions of nightmarish landscapes and situations that some people with psychosis see. In the documentary film for the game, they said that many of the scenes and motifs in the game were derived from the real-life experiences of people who have psychosis and other similar conditions. There are multiple levels with hanging corpses which came from the experiences of a little girl where they were so real that she tried to actually pull them down to lay them at rest. There are levels where you’re fending off literal darkness in an attempt to remain sane. This is especially prevalent to me because I relate to it a lot. In the game, the word darkness is often used to describe Senua’s psychosis and often this is represented as literal darkness in the game.
There are puzzle levels in the game where you can get the feeling of frustration and in the last puzzle level for Valravn, this frustration was readily apparent. The feeling of frustration is constantly something that Senua has. She doesn’t know how to “fix” her darkness and she has things she wants to do but can’t because Zynbel, her father, isn’t letting her. During the game, her frustration is directed at her own powerlessness and the trials that the gods put before her to test her. This frustration was a strong identifying point for me too.
The combat system wasn’t particularly engaging and I already knew most of the lore that Druth was narrating so those are minus points for me. Personally, my favorite part of the game was the fight with the Beast who guarded the sanctum to where Hela was. The fight was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. The visions that you can’t control, a monster that spews darkness and melts into shadows. It is horrifying to see your nightmares as a child of monsters in the dark become actualized and at the same time, it is exhilarating to see something that was only previously in your head on a screen and be able to fight it and defeat it.
The last part I want to address is the portrayal of stigma in the game and the sequence at the end where Senua confronts her father about his abuse and intentional neglect as well as the murder of her mother. This is very important. Mental illness is a taboo subject and many people feel uncomfortable talking about it and think of those with more severe forms of mental illnesses as being less than human (or at least treat them as so). So the moment where Senua saw through the rationalisations that her father used to manipulate her and justify his actions and rejected them, it was very moving to me and meant a lot in the context of my own life. All of this only added to the realism of the game even though it was technically set in a fantasy setting.
The ending, I know, is a bit controversial and a lot of people are salty over the fact that the threat at the beginning of the game of your save file being erased if you die too many times was false (I actually saw an article about it even before I played the game myself) but I was satisfied with the ending and although I was bummed that the game won’t actually erase your save file, I really liked this game for the fact that it was pretty accurate in the portrayal of Senua’s psychosis and her mental processes as she struggled to clear the darkness in her mind. The graphics were also pretty good and overall, I give the game:
What do you think about the game? What rating would you have given it? Be careful about spoilers though.
This is Lieutenant and I’ll talk to you later.
A revisit to an old piece. Which one of you can guess which one it is?
If you like my art, you can buy prints of them here. I need some ideas for a new piece since I’m fresh out. Like and follow if you enjoyed.
The name of this piece has three meanings; it not only alludes to the nature of the staircase but also to the eternity of time as well as the feeling that everything is spiraling out of control. Other than that, this piece isn’t really that good in my opinion. I hope to redraw this in the future.
This is my most recent piece I’ve finished and there is one more piece that I haven’t shown on Outlet yet that was supposed to come before this so you guys will see that one soon. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put up a decent article on here soon. I’ve been busy and kind of out-of-whack. Pray for me. T-T Please comment with new ideas for art or if y’all want us to write an article on something interesting in the coming weeks.
I’ll see you on Sunday.
This is Ultimate Horizon — The Universal Fate.
If you like this, this art piece is available as a print here.
Sam Shotter hurried along the wharf, fully aware of the looming grey clouds in the sky. The crates piled up haphazardly on either side made it more difficult to navigate and he cursed the day-sailors who left them there. He turned right and was forced to slow down as he encountered a maze of the blasted crates. A slight movement to his right caught his attention and Sam almost ignored it, thinking it was loose tarp.
He stopped, it can’t be him, can it? He shook his head slightly. No, the voice is different. Human. Nevertheless, his hand fell to his jacket pocket where he kept his taser. “Do I know you?”
Sam’s mouth dried and summoning his courage, he straightened and said: “Well then, show yourself.”
The stranger stepped forward and Sam’s scream fell silently from his lips.
Even with the reflected light of the moon and stars, the shadow writhed around the stranger. The only discernable feature was the double rows of perfect, white teeth. The eyes were nowhere to be seen.
“B-but I thought you said-” He cursed himself. When dealing with such creatures, showing fear is an invitation to attack.
The teeth smiled, “Everyone and no one knows me.”
“Wh-what does that mean?” By now, a deathly cold has settled on him and the grey clouds do not seem to hold the same importance as it did before.
“Do you know who I am?”
“N-no.” He started to shiver violently. He was only standing because his muscles had locked in place.
“Ah, but you do. Perhaps you will know if I ask you this. What am I?”
It was obvious. “Death.” His body stopped shivering and the cold leaked steadily into his veins.
“Yessss.” Death hissed, apparently delighted. He stepped closer. Sam’s hand slackened, falling from his pocket to hang limply by his side.
“You know me and yet you don’t. You know what to call me and yet you do not know my name.” Death paused, head cocked.
He sighed. He raised his arm and Death’s sleeve fell away to reveal a skeletal hand. When his voice spoke again, it had turned rusty and coarse.
“But it’s too bad. You are interesting, Sam Shotter. I haven’t had anyone answer me in a long time. Perhaps it’s because you’ve met some of our kind. And perhaps you can tell me more from where you’re going to. Say goodbye!”
Death’s hand closed around a wisp of his Shadow and it pulled into the shape of his infamous scythe. The last thing Sam saw was a grinning skull.
Death nudged Sam’s body. He didn’t stir. Death sighed again. What did he expect? After all, his law is absolute. It was too bad Sam was a liar and a thief. When dealing with such creatures, death is the most fitting punishment. Death almost chuckled. He had lied, too. Not even Death could exist in oblivion. His hand released the shadowy form of his scythe and it redissolved into the Shadow. Between one blink and the next, Death had gone to meet his next client. Sam would be found when the first hungover sailors trickle in to take their posts. But for now, the grey clouds would allow his body several more hours of rest.
As a side note, I’d very much like it if some of you artsy people would recommend some ideas for new drawings for me. I’ve been hitting some serious artist’s block this past school year and soon, I’ll run out of pieces to post on here. So please help. Leave what you thought of the piece down below as well.
This the first of my neo-surrealistic style works. I only draw in graphite and so far, I’ve found it good enough for what I’m drawing. This was back when I first began drawing so you can see quite clearly that the concept wasn’t very well executed.
In any case, you see the barrel of a gun at the left side of the screen and that the main subject has been shot. He seems to have a clock for a head but his shadow shows a normal human head. His clock head is damaged by the bullet and has stopped. The reflections on the clock face show his dreams and thoughts. In the background, there is a circle of faceless figures that watch silently. On the side of the man’s clock face protrudes some sort of projector with the man’s life story and the faceless figures stand by silently, watching it. While he is dying, the man is totally helpless, both over his current situation and his future. The shirt he wore that day now ironically echo his loss of life.
She was five at the time. It was her first day of kindergarten on an otherwise normal day. She was waiting by the school gates waiting for the sight of her mother’s red hair. Her backpack was an unfamiliar weight on her back. She shifted the straps uncomfortably. Several of her new classmates waved to her as they passed her, hand in hand with their own parents. She waved back with her right hand.
It’s funny how she could still remember each of their faces clearly. The boy with sandy-colored hair, the girl with freckles and an overbite, the curly-haired girl in her flowery skirt, the boy with the Pokemon cap and his deck of cards. She smiled. That same boy lived next door to her now. She had taken a liking to him the first time she’s seen him. It was a child’s infatuation. She liked the way his eyes lit up when he talked about his cards, the way he frowned in concentration and the way he treated everyone fairly. Maybe a shadow of that childhood infatuation still remained. She shook her head. That doesn’t matter anymore. She looked down at her left hand.
Through her five-year-old eyes, she saw her pudgy fingers holding tightly onto her masterpiece as if it would fly away. A voice called her name. She looked up, neck craned, searching for the source of the voice. “Here, mommy!” Her mom’s red hair came bobbing into view and her fingers loosened. The piece of paper flew away, carried away by a sudden breeze. Thinking back on it now, it seemed like Fate was taunting her. When she was little, she thought that if she hadn’t let go of that piece of paper, her mother would still be here. Her paper with her happy stick family floated away, lost forever to her grasping fingers.
But those thoughts didn’t occur to her until she was older, much older. At the time, a strange man was hovering by her mother. As she came closer, her five-year-old self could see the empty sockets where the eyes should have been, the grinning face and what scared her most, the scythe that he carried in his bone-white hands. The scythe’s curved blade fit snugly around her mother’s slim waist. The man held chains in his hands, chains that ended in shackles on her mother’s wrists, ankles and throat. She pointed to them and asked her mother what they were used for. Her mother, taking it as a child’s figment of imagination, replied as such. But the man turned his empty eye sockets on her, taking notice of her for the first time. She waved at him. Her mother looked over her shoulder, trying to see who she was waving to. But besides a sudden chill, didn’t detect anything else. Her mother took her left hand and led her to the car, chatting happily. And that’s where the memory ended. They could have been walking forever to the car.
She focused again on her left hand. On it, was a scar. One that curved through her palm. Like the strange man’s scythe. A touch on her shoulder caused her to turn her head. A similar grinning face looked back at her. Attached to the face was a cloth-covered body and out of the body was the same bone-white hand, holding a scythe. In the other hand, was the same chains ending with the shackles in the same places. Looking back at her hand, she saw the grained wood handle of a scythe. Oh, that’s right. She was friends with the death gods. The reapers that took her mother’s soul when she died. But that doesn’t matter anymore. The reaper stood up, chains rattling. She stood up at well but her chains were empty. She needed to find someone and soon. As her friend faded away, she followed. The branch that she was sitting on rustled as if shaking off a pest. The boy next door shivered. Maybe he would be suitable.