This game was born out of two concepts.
The first comes from the experience of trying to save a friend from themselves. As anyone who’s tried to save someone would know: over and over again, you think – if only I could find the right words. Which seems to me very much like playing an interactive fiction game, and at every turn praying that you are choosing the right option, doing the right thing, coming up with the right words, triggering the right game mechanics that will keep them here just a bit longer.
The second comes from Fanon’s critique on colonial psychiatry as well as this quote from Kurt Vonnegut: “Workers in the field of mental health at various times in different parts of the world must find themselves asked to make healthy people happier in cultures and societies which have gone insane.” The idea is mental unwellness, or even suicide, may be the rational response to an oppressive, hopeless, catastrophic world.
In a cyberpunk-esque world where a viable future is dimmer by the day – ecological catastrophe, economic collapse, stratified inequality, authoritarian and militaristic governance – choosing the voluntary exit to life is increasingly seen as rational and even necessary for those who are not in the 1%. Drugs that painlessly bring about the end are widely circulated in black markets. So when your best friend, R, makes the decision shortly after her 21st birthday, everyone around takes the news in stride – everyone except you. You understand her choice. You know it is seen as acceptable, as reasonable. And yet, and yet –
You are S, a 20-year-old living in a post-apocalyptic society.
You want to save your best friend R from herself. You want to stop her from leaving.
You are in conflict with your best friend. She is so very adamant and convincing. You are struggling to find the reasons why she is wrong and you will need to persuade both her and yourself.
You can choose what to say, what to do, and how to interact with both your friend and the people around you.
You can talk. You try to piece together the right words. You tell her stories to invoke nostalgia, you guilt-trip her, you gaslight her, you tell her you will never forgive her.
You can take her places. You can try and plan trips, you can do the things you always do together.
You can make her gifts, cook her meals, write her letters.
You can gather information from other people in the world, although they will not join you in your quest.