Escape your negativity.
Indygo, published by Fat Dog Games and developed by Pigmentum Game Studio, is best described as a point-and-click escape room about depression. Your goal is to escape the room, but with a unique twist: You have the key to the door in your inventory from the outset, but your depression stops you from wanting to use it. You can only open the door once you overcome the worst of your depression, which is done by making good choices.
Educating the public about mental illness is important, but a problem inherent in accurately portraying depression is that, well, it isn't fun to be depressed. Indygo skillfully builds a gloomy atmosphere: The voice acting, music, black and white art style, and narrative all work together to convey the disconnection and emptiness a person suffering from depression can feel. You may come away with a better understanding of depression by playing, but if you're looking for entertainment along with your education, you will be disappointed.
I was hoping the puzzles would be the entertaining part of Indygo, but they're not.
If puzzles could have depression, they would be like the ones in Indygo: uninspired, empty, tired. How it works is that there are hiding spots around the room you must check after every decision you make. New objects appear that weren't there before and are highlighted, making it trivial to spot them — especially since you’re told, via journal entry, what you are looking for beforehand. Once you have all the items you need to do something, it actually announces that fact, continuing to spoon-feed you. Then, to solve a “puzzle”, you must drag certain items from your inventory onto a particular object in the room, possibly after combining two items. It isn’t even hard to figure out which items to use or combine, because after every decision you make your inventory is cleared and you are only able to find items related to the current puzzle you are solving. So sad.
He said, she said
The story is conveyed largely through letters you receive from your girlfriend and doctor, even though they both visit you in your room on a regular basis. You never get to see face-to-face interactions as they happen, but only hear about what happened afterwards in these letters, which has the unfortunate consequence of diminishing dramatic tension.
The rest of the narrative is provided through private journal entries, where you can get a sense of what your character’s state of mind is, as well as receive clues on what to do next. Both the letters and the journal entries are narrated, but I was glad for the option to mute it, as I eventually found it annoying how slow the reading was.
The biggest flaw in the story is that you don’t learn much about the characters. If you come to care about the main character, you might be disappointed that you don’t find out how his relationship turns out or see what he is like when he is in a better state of mind. Indygo is so narrowly focused on the period of time where you battle depression and either overcome it or succumb to it, that it stops abruptly there, and that can be unsatisfying.
Is that a real degree, Doctor?
Indygo feels unprofessional in a few ways. (Perhaps that is because the people that make up Pigmentum Game Studio are students.)
When you select New Game from the main menu, you are treated to a warning of sorts about how the game might make you sad so you should consider playing "during the day" while "accompanied by a person close to you," which is totally lame. Indygo advertises itself as showing how depression feels, so anyone choosing to play it knows what they're getting into already. This warning is unnecessary and annoying.
Indygo takes about ninety minutes for your first playthrough. After that, you can replay it from the start to experience the different outcomes of each choice and reach all endings, but it is tedious to go through all the same puzzles again. At best, you get two hours of gameplay out of this one.
The Verdict: OK
This point-and-click room escape realistically explores depression, but is light on entertainment or challenge. Artistic and educational elements succeed; puzzles and playability are poor. Avoid if you’re looking for fun, but if quirky art is your thing, enjoy.