Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment.
User reviews: Mixed (2,467 reviews)
Release Date: Aug 11, 2014

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Recommended By Curators

"An interactive story about living with depression to illustrate the depths of the illness and what it can do to people. Best of Indies 2013, see link."
Read the full review here.

Reviews

“Depression Quest hinges on its deeply personal writing style. It feels as though you’re reading someone’s unfiltered mental diary. Depression Quest is uncomfortable in that it feels voyeuristic, but the cramped proximity is how you develop a relationship with the character. It’s why, by the end, I was able to say I understood depression a bit better. It's a window.”
Giant Bomb

“[Depression Quest] is ‘game’ as communication, comfort and tool of understanding.”
Rock Paper Shotgun

“Besides the blues-ridden story, it's just a well-made game overall. It's excellently written, well-paced, and so engaging that you might just find yourself playing again to find out what might happen”
GameSpy

About This Game

Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment. This game aims to show other sufferers of depression that they are not alone in their feelings, and to illustrate to people who may not understand the illness the depths of what it can do to people.

  • Over 40k words of interactive fiction.
    Playthroughs are short enough to be done in one day, but long enough for the game to have gotten it's point across.
  • About 150 unique encounters.
    Based on your depression levels, different choices open and close off to you.
  • Content generated based on your decisions.
    The choices you make have a real effect on how your playthrough turns out.
  • Multiple endings.
    See how your choices affected the game's world, and how well you've managed your depression.
  • Audio and visuals react to your depression.
    Listen as the music gets glitchier and see how much stronger the static gets. Watch the color get sucked out of how you see the world.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP Service Pack 2+
    • Processor: Intel Pentium 4 or later
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    Minimum:
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
    • Processor: Intel
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 13.04+, Fedora 18+, Arch, Gentoo
    • Processor: Intel Pentium 3 / Athlon 64 or later
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Additional Notes: Gamepad support unavailable on Linux platform
Helpful customer reviews
248 of 287 people (86%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
The best way to misunderstand depression.
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253 of 296 people (85%) found this review helpful
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 27
I "played" this choose-you-own-adventure story three times now, because I wanted to be fair. It's hard to believe how bad this game is. Aside from being a dull slog through page after page of descriptions of how meaningless and troubled your life is, the game is frankly insulting and insensitive to people suffering mental illness.

Speaking for myself, as an actual person being treated for actual depression by an actual doctor, it was beyond frustrating to find that pretty much every action I chose just led to having more and more positive actions cut off. The *ahem* "developer" of this story seems to believe that people with depression are hopelessly beset on all sides by unsolvable problems and people who just don't understand how awful life is. Where are the options for seeking and getting help, leading to improved circumstances? I did not see them.

The music is okay, pretty basic background music that seems intended to be sort of evocatively bluesy. If there was anything actually happening, it might be interesting. There is an annoying staticky noise that becomes more intrusive as you go. Apparently this is supposed to represent how unpleasant it is to be depressed? It does succeed here, somewhat, in the sense that (again, speaking on ly for myself) a depressed person might experience a sort of "mental chatter" or background noise that can make it difficult to concentrate. This would be useful if one could do anything in this story other than grow progressively more despondent.

Indeed (*spoiler alert*) on the very first choice, you already have "Order some food, grab a drink, and hunker down for a night of work" REMOVED from you possible options. The other 3 options are, basically: reluctantly try to make yourself do something; waste time watching TV instead of working; or, just go to bed. You have no real agency in the story. You are completely at the mercy of circumstances and the poor choices you are forced to make.

This game fails at being a game. It fails at being a portrayal of depression, except for the attitude that "things are hopeless and there's pretty much nothing one can do but have one's life and relationships ruined by the cold uncaring world. It does succeed, in a perverse ay, at living up to its name. If you are on a quest for depression, this game will surely hand it to you.
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125 of 155 people (81%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 28
Firstly, I'd like to say that for the amount of content found in this 'game', there is not enough to justify it being a downloadable file. This is the kind of thing that I imagine as a flash game, somewhere on Kongregate or Armor Games where you don't have to keep it on your computer for the fact that it's just about clicking on links and expecting that you chose the right option.

The music I'd have to say is something I that I myself did not enjoy. The piano was slow, and as far as I could tell it was just a few second loop. The party music would have to be the same in regards to it just being a loop as well. Anyone who is seriously considering trying Depression Quest out, I recommend listening to something on youtube. "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid made playing this game a fun experience but if you don't like that song, "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King is a good substitute.

The story itself is something that I personally could not get into. I think it was something to do with being depressed and having a girlfriend named Alex and yeah ... Couldn't get into it.

The fact that certain visable options aren't available in Depression Quest is quite annoying - but I guess that was what was intended when it was being developed. The choices when in your first reading were quite obvious to make, the train of thought that I had was "Choose the options that make the most sense. Don't focus on work? Hell no. Ignore girlfriend? Hell no. Go to party? Hell YEAH (the most exciting thing that happens until you find out that you're socially awkward even though you HAVE a girlfriend who tries to be intimate with you)"

Thinking that you clicked the wrong button and then backtracking to try a different selection of options probably made my experience a drool. Also the fact that choosing different options didn't really change the story all that much was also a bummer, for as short an experience as Depression Quest is, it does seem rushed, and if not rushed then not thought out a lot.

Although this review in my opinion was not well thought out and was just me typing out things about Depression Quest that came into my head, I'd have to say that this isn't a fun or interesting experience. If you want to have fun with it, try listening to music that doesn't come from Depression Quest itself and don't get your hopes high when you see options that require you to be in any way social as they probably won't be selectable no matter what you try.

Note: I avoided trying to call Depression Quest a game for a reason, the reason being because it doesn't take long at all to finish. Seriously though, not a long experience, I read it over a decent number of times just to see how fun I could make the experience with whatever I could find around me at the time.

I recommend trying a 'Doctor Who Choose Your Destiny' book if you want to make choices in a story that directly impact how it plays out and haven't tried a interactive story before.
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104 of 134 people (78%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
It's a cold day, and you're thinking of installing Depression Quest. You've read the reviews and see that it maybe isn't the best idea to download.
Do you...
Install the game with confidence that it will be good.
Download the game to laugh at how bad it is.
Cautiously install, with negative review in hand.
Walk away, and never come back to this page and tell Alex what you saw today.

You are currently deeply concerned about Depression Quest
You are not going to play Depression Quest any time soon.
You are currently not taking medication for being shown this game.
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75 of 96 people (78%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
I don't know how to explain this game...

Lots of reading, gives you an illusion of choice but half the choices are crossed off. The story is meh. You have the choice of getting a cat though which is nice because cats are cool.

Download it, give it a go, then uninstall it.
- - -
Also, I should probably leave this here.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
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65 of 84 people (77%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 24
This is more of an interactive text experience than a game, and I could liken it some of the old interactive Animorph, Goosebumps and Doctor Who books. Not a lot can be said for it in terms of originality, aside from the fact that nobody to my knowledge, has had the nerve to attempt to make depression into an interactive experience.
I can't help but feel, as much as the supposed intentions of the author as stated at the beggining of the game are all fine and good, that this game comes from a somewhat self centered place. Many of those, and I include myself, who have suffered depression, can often tend to allow their experience to inspire their art and the results can be very satisfying. When I listen to, watch or observe such art, as much as it comes off as sad, it makes me feel joy. This is simply not the case with this game. The author has clearly taken their own experiences and their output has been to make a game that attempts to make other people feel depressed (and I'll place emphasis on the word 'attempt'), rather than to create art and other things that instead express and explore the feeling. It flimsily attempts to impose the feeling upon the viewer rather than present the feeling for the viewer to explore and gain something out of. This gives the game a very self indulgent tone. Self indulgence emanating from any piece of art is not necessarily a bad thing but in this case it feels as though it was completely unchecked by the author, and puts a very bad taste in my mouth.
There really isn't much to speak about in terms of art assets aside from it's sound track, which in my opinion sounds rather tacky and contrived, like the sound track to a depression ad campaign. I must actually say that I feel that the lack of art assets is one of this game's only wise decisions. It's white background and plain text don't overstate the feelings of depression the game is supposed to be imposing on you, which may even compensate for the horrible cheasy music I just mentioned. I can only imagine the overused contrasty pictures and grain effects that could have been chosen to give the game an 'edgy' and 'dark' appearance, and this makes me cringe.
If I could say one other good thing about the game, it would be in the effectiveness of the way in which it makes the player feel hopelessly as though their choices won't matter. Although as stated above, I can't say I appreciate this game's over all approach, and so this slightly impressive mechanic does not even begin to remove the bad taste from my mouth. It should also be mentioned that as a trade off this causes your play through to have little variation as your choices make little difference. No matter what, you tend to wind up back on the same path of the story no matter what choices you make. This only makes a story that is already dull, unoriginal and boring, even less worth while and gives it very little replayability.

In short, I feel that this is a misguided and self indulgent exercise running behind the pretence of being an attempt to reach out to people. It lacks both subtlety and substance, and as an experimental indie game it is dwarved by hundreds of text adventures, point and click adventures and experimental games that have come before it on the levels of creativity, originality, taste and righteous intent, and I can't say it deserves the greenlight it has received.
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52 of 68 people (76%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
This game is very rude towards people like me who deal with depression. I could only sit through 12 minutes of the game before I just shook my head and turned it off to write this review. This character you play as isn't even depressed. They just have no personality. I mean I understand that the creator wants YOU as the player to experience what it's like to go through life and make every day choices while dealing with depression, but this is far from accurate. Maybe it IS like this for some people in worst case scenarios, but still, even depressed people have a personality of some sort. Also, the music was very boring, slow, annoyingly repetitive, and just made me even less interested in playing more of the game. This also applies to the visuals. If I could, I'd rather continue to read it as a visual novel instead. Maybe it gets better the further you play, but until then, I wouldn't recommend playing this game if you have depression. It'll just make you angry at the creator. Even if you don't have depression the overall game so far is very boring.
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48 of 64 people (75%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 3
This visual novel is like 10 minutes long, there are barely any visuals and the novel part is boring. A proper VS like Katawa Shoujo at least lasts several houres and has likable characters.

0/10 would not play again
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37 of 48 people (77%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 9
I tried this game and realised that the disclaimer at the beginning was correct, this isn't a game. This "choose your own adventure: Tumblr edition."
I keep hearing the DQ as the short form of title in the reviews and quite honestly keep thinking of Dairy Queen, which I can recall can offer delicious if not fattening solutions to many woes. But while it cannot cure depression it can possibly cure the depression that you will come down with when you attempt this game.
I would say don't get it but it's free and you will feel tempted to try it. But word of caution the music can be pretty unsettling to listen to at times especially since it kept making me think something scary or disturbing would happen which actually might temporarily stave off any boredom you will experience. This in turn can be quickly averted with a snack "buff" courtesy of Dairy Queen:)
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56 of 87 people (64%) found this review helpful
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 13
This game makes me appreciate all of the other games in my library!

Thanks Depression Quest!
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34 of 49 people (69%) found this review helpful
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 29
I honestly cannot see what purpose this 'game' is supposed to fill. Its just the same stuff we all hear about depression rehashed over and over again it barely qualifies itself as a legitimate piece of work, at least if there was some element to it besides scrolling through what amounts to a Wikipedia article filled with hyperlinks it might be intresting, sadly there isn't and the 'game' pays for it.
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30 of 44 people (68%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 7
Why are there options available that are unclickable?
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22 of 30 people (73%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 7
The music is alright for what's suppose to be droning depressive background.

This game just drags on. I don't know if that's an attempt at being meta and "Oh, you're sort of depressed with this game, see how it feels?" but it's just dumb. What's even the purpose of a game to get into the depressed mind? Is there no better interactive or visual elements than a glorified Choose Your Own Adventure book?

I wanted to give this a try for the sake of the GamerGate controversy, but I got forty five minutes in before it all just felt heavy handed and contrived.

If you want a game that makes you feel a bit bleak, play LIMBO.
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36 of 56 people (64%) found this review helpful
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 24
Depression Quest for all its stated aims and intentions doesn't quite achieve what it wished to. Although I applaud the intentions of the development team, the execution fails miserably.

Whatever genre/style etc of game you play one of they key focuses is on creating an immersive environment. The first faux pax "Depression Quest" commits is to intentionally alienate the player through the constant use of the accusative pronoun "you". Being constantly reminded that you are a player and not the game's protagonist means it is increasingly difficult to actually empathise with Alex. This deliberate alienation between player and game actually detracts from the stated aim which is to "help people understand what it is like to be depressed". The over-use of the pronoun also makes the game appear to be controlling the action and outcomes, rather than the player. (Alright that's a highly subjective statement so I will clarify it further). When using accusative pronouns, we are telling others what we think about them or what to do. As the only interaction the player can engage in is choosing options, using the accusative makes the game appear as if it is telling us what to do, essentially coding a response, rather than the player having the illusion of control. This is particularly compounded by the fact that the choices are also phrased in the accusative... i.e. "You choose to stay at home and watch Netflix". Now the styling of "Choose your own adventure" does use the pronoun you, but usually only when asking the player a question. Questions are a direct, overt engagement that break the narrative (and consequently breaks immersion), this isn't necessarily the developers fault, it's a fault of the format, but when juxtaposed against the larger narrative it serves to further alienate the player from the story.
The sad thing is this could have been easily overcome by simply rewriting the game as a journal, blog or diary and so switching to the pronoun "I". (This is actually a viable option as many counsellors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists encourage the keeping of a diary or journal as part of therapy).
The writing is tediously unimaginative and dull, and simply fails to hold interest. There is little use of metaphor, simile or any sort of figurative or descriptive language. Now, this may have been a stylistic choice on the part of the writer, Patrick Lindsey, but it doesn't pay off. In other media we have been exposed to vigorous compelling accounts of people who have suffered from Depression, from Woolfe to Wurtzel with Plath inbetween. Lindsey has borrowed nothing from their style and in choosing to create a "factual" account has lost the lyricism that allows people to emotionally engage with a piece of writing (or game).
Lindsey isn't all bad though, his characterization is consistent and the narrative account is well researched. In fact I can recommend the portrayal of Depression at least. Three of the methods for coping and dealing with Depression are emphasised, the two most obvious are Therapy and Medication (primarily emphasised visually but also within the narrative itself), and the narrative additionally reveals the need for support systems, whether from a close loved one, family or friends. He also manages to note the relapse stages of depression through his characterization, however the game suffers from a lack of dialogue or choices within counselling/therapy. Even when you do opt for the counselling you aren't able to interact with the psychiatrist by giving or receiving information from her, information is only supplied through friend/family/girlfriend interactions. This means that, again the developers have managed to exclude a great deal of important information regarding coping techniques that would have enhanced the game by providing more interactions and improved their narrative discourse to meet their intention of informing people.
Visually I presume they wanted to adopt a minimalist style, to better evoke depression. The colours are primarily shades of grey and the background is left a neutral white. The choice of font is similarly plain and clearly legible. In addition a variety of pictures are included to accompany the text, in an attempt to enhance visual appeal as well as serve a function of assisting in a display of how depressed Alex is. This is done by increasing the amount of "noise" overlying each picture and the text at the very bottom of the screen when he begins to suffer greater depression and decreases as he returns to an equilibrium state. It's a clever idea and it works fairly well, at least in the case of the pictures. On the text at the bottom of the screen however, it merely serves to distract from readings of the text by annoyingly catching attention in some sort of entoptic diversion. The pictures themselves are at least evocative, and add some much needed emotional colour to what is otherwise a rather drab piece. Now again, Depressed people do suffer from dampened emotions so the choice may have been a stylistic one on the part of the developers, but if you are making a game for non-depressed people to engage with you need to convey lethargy and despondency through your medium which Depression Quest would appear to, intentionally, refuse to do and so fail.
The music is suitably doleful, and repetitive, which does assist the atmosphere when reading the story. In fact my response is slightly different to most in that I don't find it annoying, its chords become familiar and in a way reassuring, blurring off into background noise, and not overtly intruding, allowing one to focus on the text. I didn't however notice any substantial change in the music depending on your depression level, in fact it doesn't even tranpose to a "happier" key, so I was slightly disappointed there.

In conclusion, I applaud the intentions of the game to attempt to recreate what depression is like, however it alienates the player, is riddled with poor design decisions, and utterly fails to capture attention or interest despite being well researched.
Instead of playing this go read Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" instead.
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31 of 47 people (66%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 7
Hmph. Music drones, and the protagonist is a lazy freeloader. Other than that, I'll let you read all the 200 other reviews saying the same thing.
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30 of 51 people (59%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 8
boring
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23 of 39 people (59%) found this review helpful
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 7
this gave me depression
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13 of 20 people (65%) found this review helpful
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 10
This is not a game.
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12 of 19 people (63%) found this review helpful
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 11
It's like she doesn't even push down on the buttons hard enough
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13 of 21 people (62%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
this was a word document with ♥♥♥♥ty polaroid pictures of computer keys at the top of it, not a game. the story wasn't even good but if u enjoy feeling bored and annoyed please try this.
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