I’ve had to talk a couple friends down from grievously harming themselves before. Inner Vision doesn’t exactly capture what it’s like – the lucid panic, the dreamlike slowness of time, the feeling that every word must be measured for glacial ages and flickering milliseconds – but it hits on a core message that’s absolutely crucial: listen. While Actual Sunlight brilliantly captured the brutal solitude complete hopelessness brings, Inner Vision turns things around. You’re giving those teetering on the brink someone to confide in. The actual exchanges are a bit stilted and simplistic, but the feelings they evoke are far too important to miss out on.
Inner Vision takes the form of a few quick, easily navigable dialogue exchanges. Defeated souls come to you seeking some (or really, any) kind of solace, and it’s up to you to hear their plights and offer advice. All the while, Death himself eggs you on, suggesting that each person’s definitely going to commit suicide, and you won’t be able to hold it all together. He’s a fairly excellent addition to the proceedings, too, digging a bitingly cynical knife into the very bones of your motivations, probing at what you’d really stand to gain from helping strangers both in a game and real life.
That said, Inner Vision’s “correct” choices are fairly straightforward, and some extremely sticky issues get bypassed by writing that errs on the side of sense and cool-headedness – not frenzy and fear. I also don’t think it adequately captures the fact that listening is an ongoing process, rather than a quick bandaid over a gushing wound of both the wrist and the heart. But it’s a start nonetheless, and one that’s well worth paying attention to. I mean, sure, hearing people out takes time and effort, but what’s a couple hours here and there in exchange for an entire lifetime?
[pullquote]The response to Inner Vision is the reason why I make games.[/pullquote]
Kudos to creator Sunil Rao for putting this out there. I’m glad to see games attempting to broach topics like this in constructive, personal fashions, because – in time – I believe they really could make a difference. For now, though, other developers, this is probably an attitude worth considering:
“Inner Vision wasn’t supposed to become popular,” Rao wrote. “I created it for myself to express some dying thoughts I’ve had for the past several months. I had a message I was trying to portray with the game, but didn’t think anybody would understand it due to the poor script I had written. Well, I guess I was wrong.”
“The response to Inner Vision is the reason why I make games. If one of my games makes you feel something unique and special, my job here is done.”