“Insomnia Awaken” by Piotr Rycabel.
“A short narrative horror game. Symbolically, the production depicts the struggle of man with depression and his internal demons. Nothing you see is exactly what it really is. This is not a ghost story or other fantasy monster story. Because the real monsters are people themselves. Often against themselves. Can you understand what surrounds you?”
A man, sitting on a sofa. He looks tired, you can nearly feel the depth of the rings under his eyes. Suddenly he stands up and you as a player get sucked into his point of view. Now you can see his apartment, or at least what you think is his flat, but it’s all mantled by gray shades. Some furniture, a television, a built-in kitchen and two closed doors. The man starts to speak.
While the words of the person are important in “Insomnia Awaken”, the real storytelling element of the game is the environment itself. So many small and clever details found their way in there, and they all are trying to tell how it can feel to suffer from a strong depression. While the choice of color is one of the most obvious elements, what really got me were the keys that appear from nowhere. Whenever you get one and are trying to open one of the doors, they won’t fit into the keyhole. The doors stay closed, but more and more keys are coming up, creating a pile of worthless metal junk.
It felt interesting to witness the different narrative approaches of “Insomnia Awaken”, as you can find subtle and very, very drastic attempts in there, that might even feel like a cliché sometimes. Trying to shoot your inner demons with a rifle? Yes, that might be the absolute sledgehammer approach. But please, you should have in mind that it’s actually very difficult to make people with a stable mental health understand what a real depression feels like. The transfer of these particular experience is hard. And yes, “Insomnia Awaken” also struggles with finding some kind of ‘language’ to do that, but at least it’s making this effort! That’s a wonderful thing, after all.