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.