“A romance about a more-than-one-night stand[.] A psychological thriller about toxic addiction.”
Angela He created some of the most amazing interactive novel games I know, and “I woke up next to you again.” is no exception from this rule. While it’s stunning on the audiovisual level, there’s even something more fascinating about the plot itself. Just imagine yourself moving into a new city, and then you just meet somebody special. You two hook up and it ends in an one-night stand. Something feels weird in the next morning, but both of you had a good time, so who knows, you might see each other again? Now it’s time for you to make some decisions: Only by choosing between different dialogue options, you will alter what’s happening and thereby lead to one of four unique endings.
One could take “I woke up next to you again.” and its description as being a thriller game about toxic addiction literally, but it’s also possible to interpret it on many other levels. Caution, spoiler alert right now, as I will refer to some of the possible events! So if you would rather give it a play first by yourself – here’s your chance to quit reading this article.
Still there? Alright. When I played it the first time, I immediately thought of it as a serious game about mental health, with your ‘one-night stand partner’ being a humanized manifestation of your own major depression disorder. What speaks for my supposition are many different small details, for example the fact that the other ‘person’ doesn’t want you to leave when you see them again. It gets exhausting to fight against their words and to stand by yourself, just as exhausting as it is to battle depression. Also, even when you are able to leave them, these sentences occur: “I feel strange. As if I’m missing something, a crucial part of myself.” When you ever had to live through such deep a state of emptiness, it gets really weird to not feel it that intense anymore, as depression tends to consume a huge chunk of your soul.
Also, one of the endings shows that your partner was imaginated. When you meet one of your old friends, you can choose the option to show them a picture of your former date – but they can’t see anyone else than you. It’s safe to say that you are in distress at this point, realizing that you were addicted to something, not someone. I think that the character was ‘addicted’ to their own sadness, in the sense that they were fetishizing their own despair, but without knowing that it’s not just a phase or anything. They got deeper and deeper into it and isolated themselves without asking anyone for help. A toxic situation was established that way. At least, that’s my personal point of view regarding “I woke up next to you again.”, and for that sole possibility to invoke such thoughts in me, I adore it massively.