Every May, you will see different organizations, groups and individuals take the opportunity to raise awareness about mental health. This is a topic that now has a lot more research, understanding and knowledge attached to it, helping people recognize and get help on related issues.
Fortunately, the stigma around mental health issues has been decreasing every year, and the mainstream media is also covering various aspects of the topic. Popular movies and TV shows are now increasingly depicting mental health, and games are no exception. In the gaming realm, this often happens in the indie or download space, but there are a few big success stories that show the importance of the subject matter and the desire of gamers to interact with games that showcase creativity and emotional intelligence along with shoot-shoot-bang-bang mechanics and entertainment.
The Switch has a range of games that touch on various aspects of mental health, such as personality issues, self-confidence, social skills, handling and coping with trauma, and more. This list selects some of the exceptional games for the Nintendo system that fall into this category; some of our team can certainly relate to these games not only as amazing games, but also as emotional and powerful experiences.
Publisher: Matt makes games / Developer: Matt makes games
Celeste is an exemplary combination of style, mechanics, characters and storytelling. A hell of a brilliant action platformer that requires enough skill to excite fans of the genre and fast-paced fans, while also breaking down gameplay elements to customize and meet the needs of any audience. While the game is great from a mechanical standpoint, the art style and storytelling are truly special, showcasing both visual and emotional range and depth that will resonate and inspire. Celeste is the absolute pinnacle of personal exploration and discovery on the Nintendo Switch.
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Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Nomada Studio
We are very careful when we use this word, but Gris is an masterpiece. Its stunning visual style and heartbreaking soundtrack combine to create one of the most emotional pieces of interactive art you’ll ever play. It may seem too short to some, its puzzles can be simple, and the lack of any real challenge may not be to everyone’s taste, but this is a game focused more on fragility than ability, and as long as you’re ready to go to travel is something that will really stay with you for a very long time.
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: Simogo
Sayonara Wild Hearts it’s a pretty unique experience as it takes its concept of a video game pop album quite literally. While it will take time to earn gold medals on all levels, in Album mode you can complete it in less than an hour on replay, where music and gameplay come together for a unique journey. The journey is special too, as our protagonist faces and overcomes his past through creative, emotional acting and storytelling. Basic music games, be sure to wear headphones.
Publisher: finji / Developer: Endless fall
Less game and more interactive story with light platforming and exploration to tie it all together, night in the forest is one of the most rewarding games you can play on Nintendo Switch. A curiosity that is better to play for yourself than we describe. This is an indie game that is sure to impress with its charming soundtrack, disarming story and instantly recognizable character arcs. Weird and wonderful in equal measure.
Publisher: Game Mode / Developer: Sketchbook games
AT Lost Words: Off the Page you play as a young girl exploring her imagination, using words and creativity in very literal ways to shape the world around you. There’s also some scope to define the story, but the overall narrative is a huge strength, aside from the beautiful visuals and the slight platforming puzzle. It’s an enjoyable gaming experience that’s suitable for less experienced players as well, but it’s in our young protagonist’s journey – and in the losses she must face – that the true weight of this experience is to be found.
Publisher: ninja theory / Developer: ninja theory
To have Ninja Theory Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on Switch in such great shape is a blessing you shouldn’t miss out on. The game itself is a psychological sensory experience that we highly recommend, but the fact that it’s been translated to Switch in such a complete way is a real surprise. It doesn’t look like a downgrade at all – it stands proudly next to other “wonderful” ports in the system, perhaps surpassing them in some way. It’s a game with extraordinary use of sound, undeniably dark and complex storytelling, and emotional moments that will stay with you for a long time.
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: The mountains
Florence it is a resurrection of the beauty, sadness and hope that comes from any human connection we make in our lives, be it art, nature or another person. This is a concise and incredibly successful exploration of moments from your own life that you get to know, and the way it reflects thoughts and feelings through small game mechanics makes it one of the most impressive experiences we have enjoyed on Switch or any other platform.
Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games / Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Really nice game Confessor combines undemanding platforming, careful exploration and forgiving resource management with a beautifully realized world with a cast full of charming, likable, memorable characters. It’s a pleasure to navigate through an evocative, charming atmosphere and a succession of gameplay styles that blend together superbly and never feel like stuffing. It’s a long game, but its cast and touching premise will keep many going until the very end.
Publisher: XD network / Developer: Freebird Games
To the moon it’s a powerful interactive story. It’s a short game, but it forces players to face uncomfortable situations and emotions directly that we’ll all struggle with at some point in our lives. Mental illness, death, heartbreak, tragedy… it’s all here, honestly portrayed in a brilliant narrative that allows us to watch the deconstruction of life, layer by layer, revealing human error and the inevitable interruptions of destiny that shape the way our lives are eventually turns out. All within four or five hours.
Publisher: modest games / Developer: Witch Beam
Unboxing manages to do several things very well, all at the same time. It’s a touching story told through interaction, it provides a creative play space for great puppet play, and deftly uses established game design ideas from vastly different genres. His only real flaw – though not everyone sees him that way – is repetition, which is a necessary by-product of landing his message. Efforts have gone into making the Switch’s controls satisfying, and the visuals and sounds amazing throughout, making Unpacking, like any sane person’s cutlery, absolutely top-notch.
Publisher: ZA/UM / Developer: ZA/UM
Disco Elysium’s storytelling and dialogue, already remarkably compelling in its own right, has been given a huge boost by the excellent voice acting featured in Final Cut. The gameplay has a lot of branching paths for you to explore, and while the slow, methodical approach might put some people off, it’s nonetheless one of the most well-told stories in the game. Any Wednesday for the last few years. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, with an incredible storyline that touches the very core of human nature, is a triumph and is considered one of the best RPGs available on Switch.
These are some of the games we recommend that deal with or reference aspects of mental health; don’t forget to share your thoughts and suggestions on the list in the comments below – we may well add to this selection if we missed something special.