In Drowning, a teenage boy reflects on his depression while going for a long walk. I appreciated him bringing up some of the physical symptoms that the illness can cause. On top of the more well known mood problems, he also has headaches, nausea, and insomnia. Some of us with depression also experience it in our bodies. I have some physical symptoms, myself. How ironic when he said he stays up late playing video games to distract himself from insomnia ~ I was playing it in bed around 2:00 am, dealing with the same thing!
His metaphor about depression being a heavy suit of armor that he can’t take off reminded me of Alphonse, from the anime Fullmetal Alchemist. After an alchemy accident, Alphonse’s soul gets stuck in a suit of armor, which leaves him unable to sleep. In the episode “Father Before the Grave”, he tells his brother that being awake for hours on end while the other characters sleep makes his nights very lonely.
I didn’t understand Drowning’s narrative structure until late in the game. Frank Duran on Galaxy of Geek explains exactly how it went for me, too: “The actual writing confuses from the very beginning. The writer personifies his depression as a “you” or a person he is talking to. They don’t establish this though. So for the first ten minutes of this tale, I assumed the writer had a really shitty friend. When the writer states that he no longer had any friends, I was like “wait what about this shitty friend you keep talking to?” Then I realized what was going on.”
Still, I appreciate that developer Polygonal Wolf cares about bring more mental health content to the world of gaming. Their character’s slow walk through nature fits well with his introspection about what he has gone through. Since I can’t find much information on the developer, I think this is their first game. I’d love to try more of their work if they make more games in the future.
*Reposted from one of my previous blogs, edited for wording and formatting
Featured image: from official Nintendo description. A teenage boy walks by trees and a waterfall.
Drowning. Polygonal Wolf, Nintendo Switch (also available for P.C), 2019. Accessed 17 Sept. 2019.
“Father Before the Grave.” Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 2, Episode 7. Written by Hiroshi Onogi, directed by Yasuhiro Irie, 2009. Netflix.
Duran, Frank. “Drowning on Switch Review.” Galaxy of Geek, 15 Feb. 2019. Accessed 18 Sept. 2019.