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Neverending Nightmares - An horrific adaptation of one developers struggle with mental illness

CAUTION: This article contains content and pictures of a violent nature. If you're sensitive to such content please read this with caution. If you struggle with depression feel free to contact the South Africa Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 567 567 for support.

It's not uncommon for a developer to relate to some part of their personal life when developing a game. We saw it in Zoey Quinn's Depression Quest, The amazing Papo and Yo and now it's become even more prolific in the new psychological horror game Neverending Nightmares. This morbidly intense horror is an adaptation of indie developer Matt Gilgenbach's struggles with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression.

The Neverending Nightmares

What makes Neverending Nightmares so intensely horrific is that it's an exploration of Matt Gilgenbach's thoughts aimed at shedding light on some of the thoughts which may cross the mind of someone who suffers with mental illness, more specifically, depression. The story behind the game doesn't have the usual steps of development your ordinary title may have. The games development comes amidst the failure of Gilgenbach's first indie title , Retrogade, after he relapsed into depression when the game did not see eye-to-eye with an audience.  "I fell back to old thought processes, and I needed to express what I was feeling. I wanted people to understand," Gildenbach stated in an interview with Joystiq at PAX Prime earlier this year. Just to give you a small taste of what to expect, the trailer sets the mood pretty accurately.

Gilgenbach's motivation for the game, as stated above, was to express some of the thoughts he had while dealing with depression. "That's the amazing thing about horror, is that we can express these negative things," he explained to Joystiq. All throughout the game you're met with extremely horrifying scenes which Gilgenbach confirms were actual thoughts he had. The game is truly surreal and these pictures may help elaborate on some of these thoughts.




The aim behind the this horror is to in some sense create awareness and tap into our empathetic sides as human beings. Provoking thoughts of our own and help those who are experiencing similar situations to avoid such nightmares. The game has several different endings depending on the choices you make throughout the game.

Follow Matt Gilgenbach on Twitter and Facebook



Taken from a Reddit thread by /u/TheDrCK, who brought this game to my attention.

The game plays a little like the Silent Hills preview, in that the vast majority of the game is spent traversing the same corridor and the rooms that come off it. The order of these appears to change from time to time, heightening a sense of disorientation and confusion and a feeling of no escape.Unfortunately, the pacing isn’t the best. There are stages in which you can spend a good five minutes slowly ambling along corridors with little if anything actually happening to progress the plot forward. Although the background score and sound effects help maintain some of the tension and foreboding, the uneventful and pedestrian nature of much of the game can pull you out of the grim atmosphere it’s tried hard to establish.In addition, with a notable absence of interaction with characters or the environment, there’s precious little to do other than continue walking forward in the hope of triggering the next event.

The game is available on Steam for $14.99.

Closing thoughts

The nature of most games are set to place us in an imaginary world which we would not usually experience in everyday life. Whether it's stealing cars in Grand Theft Auto or chasing slaying Zombies in Left for Dead, it's refreshing when we encounter a game where we can learn something. Neverending Nightmares touches on a rather controversial subject not often covered in gaming and I think even if we don't play it there is something to learn from games of this nature.

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