Mental illness isn’t always given the best rap in video games, often being stigmatized, villainized, and misrepresented to explain the motivations of a “crazy” antagonist. When our heroes are the ones suffering a disorder, they almost always experience their traumas as monstrous manifestations of their inner turmoil, as popularized by games like Silent Hill or indie cult-classic Neverending Nightmares. At first glance, Healing Process: Tokyo seems no different. Having a personal problem? Just kill the personification of your fear! Simple and bloody. HP:T decides to push the limitations of this trope, juxtaposing the “mad” with the mundane in an immersive interactive narrative that acknowledges mental illness as far more insidious than a tangible monster to be slain.
Meet Charles Russell, a notable surgeon living on the outskirts of Tokyo. After his wife is unceremoniously fridged by a “tragic accident,” Charles falls into a deep depression. As his illness permeates each facet of his life, Charles’s work suffers and simple surgeries begin going awry. On the brink of professional failure and living under the looming threat of lawsuits, he decides to take a personal day before performing one last surgery that will either salvage his withered reputation or push him off the edge completely.
During this critical day, you are Charles’s guide through the sprawling open-world of Tokyo. As you explore the countless nooks and crannies of the city, interact with hundreds of unique characters, featuring carefully developed personalities and voice acting. Meaningful connections strengthen Charles’s psyche. This is crucial in navigating therapy sessions, in which a psychiatrist opens up Charles’s subconscious and allows him to take on his personal demons as physical ones.
Developer EclipseJP is looking to reenergize interactive fiction, emphasizing meaningful core themes of love and loss without skimping on the action. They’ve also taken extra measures to ensure HP:T thoughtfully reflects on depression and grief, rather than capitalize on it. Charles’s characterization is the direct result of extensive research and interviews with doctors, as well as actual people living with mental illness. Because of this, HP:T transcends the hack and slash limitations of depression as a horror mechanic, creating instead a poignant exploration of humanity, companionship, and recovery. With a little monster-slaying on the side.
You can now do more than just support Healing Process: Tokyo on Kickstarter. With a donation of $31 or more, your likeness will be pixelated directly into Tokyo, complete with your name and a unique dialogue tag. You can contribute to Charles’s journey to the PC and Mac until the Kickstarter closes on Wednesday, October 14th.