The game Elude was created to demonstrate the ups and downs of mental illnesses like depression. The main target audience of Elude is anyone with little experience with depression, including friends and family members of depression victims.
Elude functions as a platforming game with different settings that represent moods of depression victims. The goal of the game is to constantly ascend throughout these mental states until finally achieving the highest level, happiness, while evading descent into the lowest level of despair.
The player begins Elude in a forest area which represents feelings of mental normalcy. The forest area features a relatively calm, ambient soundtrack and color scheme. By jumping from tree branch to tree branch, the player gains altitude and makes progress towards the tree tops (and happiness).But elevation of mood cannot be achieved solely through skill and hard work, the player must activate or “resonate with” birds which represent life’s passions. Resonating with passions gives the player a temporary power-up that allows faster movement and higher jumping.
When the player reaches the tree tops, they ascend to happiness. This area is characterized by playful music and the consistent jumping from falling leaves that shoot the player upward through the open air in a manner that is jubilant compared to the tedium of “normal.” However, after a certain height is achieved, the falling leaves start to disappear, and the player falls back to the forest floor.
Once again in normalcy, the player starts to climb back up towards happiness. But after a set amount of time, a foreboding shadow spreads across the forest and the birds begin to flee (representing the absence of passion). Menacing tree roots clamor for the player who is eventually pulled down to despair.
Despair is vacant of all color or music; all that can be heard is the echoing of an empty breeze. The player is confined to a small dark pocket of air beneath the trees’ roots and has very limited movement. Pretty quickly, the ground starts to sink around the avatar’s feet until he descends lower to an even more confined space. This happens several times until finally reaching rock bottom where a dim light indicates which way the player needs to walk towards so as to return to normalcy.
The message of Elude is quite clear, and the themes that characterize depression are conveyed effectively. As passions begin to run out, one feels a sense of desperation to reach happiness and avoid despair. This heightened state of anxiety only made me a less successful climber and resulted in more frequents trips to the lower levels of the game. Depression hurts (and sometimes kills) and Elude does a good job of giving a basic feel for the dynamic emotions that accompany this common psychological ailment.
Check the game out here: