Sym Is A Game About Social Anxiety

It’s World Mental Health Day today, thus I wanted to draw your attention to Sym [official site]: a stylish, monochromatic puzzle platformer that portrays issues of mental health in a very unique way.

Josh, the game’s protagonist, suffers from acute social anxiety disorder and has a tendency to shy away from social situations. This is portrayed metaphorically within Sym’s abstruse world, where you must switch between light and dark areas, where Josh is encouraged to show more of himself if he wishes to overcome the game’s puzzles.

What unfolds is an interesting, engaging and challenging platform game, and whilst Sym very quickly becomes about besting the next puzzle-some set-piece, Josh’s inner-monologue is writ across the game’s multitude of abstract spaces – serving to remind players of the game’s overarching message. Perhaps you’ll get a better sense of how it works by watching this gameplay trailer:

Sebastiano Morando, the lead designer at developer Atrax Games, told RPS more about the basis of Sym’s world: “The protagonist has a personality at a crossroads. The black part is the side that wants to overcome his problems and resolve things; whereas the white one is the side which wants to hide more inside himself. It comes from Yin and Yang, the two faces of the problem. The protagonist wishes to live both inside of his mind, but also outside of its constraints alongside others.”

Morando continued: “Making games which help others is a great thing. I don’t know if Sym can help people, but if this was possible it would be great.”

Sym is out now on Steam for £5.59 and Desura for the same.


  1. prof_yaffle says:

    As someone who suffers from social anxiety I am very glad that this game exists.

    The developer’s comments about the protagonist’s personality being at a crossroads really rang true. For me the worst thing about social anxiety is the constant conflict between the side of me that wants to meet people, make friends, and generally be successful and the side of me that just wants to hide away from the world and everyone in it.

    sigh, if only it were out on Linux.

    • hprice says:

      Irony is a funny thing. I too have an acute social anxiety disorder. Name: Social Phobia … oh and clinical depression, and autism. Its great to be me!

      Anyhow, I tend to shy away from games like this because I (1) I don’t want to look at them, and think what a pathetic, and sad person I might be, (2) If I played something like this, I might get affected in some way by the content (silly I know), and (3) I like escapism. I prefer to escape from reality as I see it rather than playing something that might end up just being depressing.

      Still if it helps others then I suppose it’s a good thing.

      • Unclepauly says:

        I also had social phobia and I don’t want to make it seem like something that is so easy to overcome as to trivialize it but here it is anyway. I found out I also have a gluten allergy as I’ve also had stomach problems my whole life and in trying to fix that problem I tried out the ancestral diet aka paleo/caveman diet, and in freeing myself from stomach problems and the gluten allergy magically a whole host of mental issues also faded away. I realize it won’t be the same for everyone but if I can toss a tidbit out there that could help someone I’ll do it at every chance I can.

  2. Nixitur says:

    Reminds me a lot about SHIFT.

  3. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    Desura is still operating? I thought it was threatened by impending doom – is it wise to recommend to buy from it?

    • Martel says:

      I was under the impression that Desura stopped paying devs months ago and that you shouldn’t buy anything from there, even if you could.

  4. santouryuu says:

    looks good.i don’t know if it counts,but “The company of myself”
    and”fixation”,both free web games,also somewhat deal with mental/psychological issues.there were some other free games.frankly,i feel that more free games deal with psychological issues than mainstream games.or perhaps i just haven’t played much of these games.don’t know

  5. melancholicthug says:

    I used to have some SA. But luckily now I have no friends or social life to speak of, so all my anxiety triggers have vanished. Great success!

  6. racccoon says:

    Having written a essay and just deleted it,.. to put it simply.
    Every living person is an Anxiety awaiting Time Bomb.
    & me being a disbeliever years ago became a shocked sufferer for two years of hell with it. I retracted my dis beliefs & became a total under stander.
    Its your worst nightmare ever.
    This game on the other hand will not help anyone with it, from what I have seen watching the video it would easily send a person who is suffering, into shock.
    If I were in my personal anxiety years at this time I would not been able to breath past the first seconds of the game.
    So I do not think a game like this is a fix.
    Maybe the creating a game is an answer to the some problems, but playing this game for a person who is suffering, is really not the answer.
    The game is far to gloomy.
    If your wanting to help people suffering, you need sunshine, simplicity, gentleness & slow progression.
    Not complication & more depressed darkness.
    Its all about time.