Each May, you’ll see various organizations, groups and individuals take the opportunity to raise awareness about mental health. It is a topic that is now receiving much more research, understanding, and knowledge, helping people recognize and seek help for related issues.
The stigma around mental health issues is thankfully decreasing every year, with popular media also covering different aspects of the subject. Mainstream movies and TV shows now increasingly portray mental health, and gambling is no different. In the gaming space, it’s often in the indie or download space, but there have been some major success stories that show the importance of the subject and the eagerness of gamers to engage with titles that make demonstration of creativity and emotional intelligence alongside shooty-shooty-bang-bang mechanics and spectacle.
The Switch has a number of games that tackle different aspects of mental health, such as identity issues, self-confidence, social skills, trauma processing and management, and more. This list selects outstanding games on Nintendo’s console that fall into this category; a number of our team members can certainly relate that these games are not only great to play, but also emotional and powerful experiences.
Editor: Matt makes games / Developer: Matt makes games
Celestial is an exemplary fusion of style, mechanics, character, and storytelling. A fiendishly brilliant action-platformer with enough skills required to excite genre purists and the speedrunning community, while offering a spread of gameplay elements to customize and satisfy all audiences. While the game is mechanically brilliant, if familiar, the art style and narrative are truly special, showing both visual and emotional range and depth that will resonate and inspire. Celeste is the absolute pinnacle of personal exploration and discovery on Nintendo Switch.
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Editor: Digital devolve / Developer: Nomad Studio
We are very careful when we use this word, but Gray is a masterpiece. Its breathtaking visual style and heartbreaking score combine to create one of the most moving interactive works of art you’ll ever play. It may be too short for some, its puzzles may be simple, and the lack of real challenge may not be to everyone’s taste, but this is a game more about fragility than ability and as long as you are ready to go, it is a journey that will accompany you for a very long time.
Editor: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: Simogo
Wild Hearts of Sayonara is a rather unique experience, as it takes its concept of a video game pop album literally. Although it takes time to get gold medals on all levels, an “Album” mode can see you through it in less than an hour on repeated play, with the music and gameplay combining for a single trip. The journey is also special, as our protagonist confronts and conquers his past through creative and emotional acting and storytelling. Essential game focused on music, also make sure to use headphones.
Editor: Finji / Developer: infinite fall
Less of a game, and more of an interactive story with light platforming and exploration to tie it all together, night in the woods is one of the most rewarding experiences you can play on Nintendo Switch. A curiosity better played for yourself than portrayed by us, it’s an indie title that’s sure to leave an impression with its enchanting soundtrack, disarming story, and instantly identifiable character arcs. Weird and wonderful in equal parts.
Editor: Mod Games / Developer: sketchbook games
In Lost Words: Beyond 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 leeway in determining the story, but the overall narrative is a huge strength beyond the beautiful visuals and the sweet, confusing platforming. It’s an enjoyable gaming experience that also suits less experienced players, but it’s in the journey of our young protagonist – and the loss she has to deal with – that the true weight of this experience lies.
Editor: ninja theory / Developer: ninja theory
Have Ninja Theory Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on Switch in such fine form is a blessing not to be missed. The game itself is a psychological sensory experience that we highly recommend, but the fact that it’s been translated to Switch so comprehensively is the real surprise here. It doesn’t feel like a downgrade at all – it proudly stands alongside the system’s other “miracle” ports, arguably surpassing them in some respects. It’s a game with extraordinary use of sound, undoubtedly dark and thought-provoking storytelling, and emotional moments that will stay with you for a long time.
Editor: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: mountains
Florence is an evocation of the beauty, sadness and hope that comes from any human connection we make in our lives, whether with art, nature or another person. It’s a succinct and incredibly successful exploration of moments you’ll recognize from your own life, and the way it reflects thoughts and feelings through little game mechanics makes it one of the most touching experiences we’ve had. enjoyed on Switch, or any other platform.
Editor: Thunder Lotus Games / Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
A really enjoyable game Spiritfarer balances undemanding platforming, smooth exploration, and forgiving resource management with a beautifully realized world featuring a cast full of charming, likable, and memorable characters. It’s a joy to move with an evocative, endearing atmosphere and a succession of playing styles that gel superbly and never feel like padding. It’s a long game, but its cast and touching premise will hold many to the end.
Editor: XD Network / Developer: Freebird Games
To the Moon is a powerful interactive story. It’s a short game but it manages to confront its players directly with uncomfortable situations and emotions that we will all struggle with at some point in our lives. Mental illness, death, grief, tragedy… it’s all here, and handled honestly in a brilliant narrative setup that allows us to look at life deconstructed, layer by layer, revealing the very human mistakes and inevitable interruptions of the destiny that shape how our lives ultimately turn out. All in four or five hours.
Editor: Humble Games / Developer: witch ray
Unpacking very good at doing several things at the same time. It’s a touching story told through interaction, it provides the creative play space of a great dollhouse game, and it skillfully applies established game design ideas from completely different genres. Its only real flaw – although not everyone will see it that way – is the repetition which is a necessary by-product of landing its message. Efforts have been made to make controls satisfying on Switch, and the visual and sound design are delightful throughout, making unboxing, like any sane person’s cutlery, absolutely the best drawer.
Editor: ZA/UM / Developer: ZA/UM
Disco Elysium’s narrative and dialogue, which are already wonderfully compelling on their own, have been given a huge boost thanks to the excellent voice acting introduced for Final Cut. The gameplay features a wealth of branching paths to explore, and while the slow, methodical approach may put off a few people, it’s nonetheless one of the most well-told stories in any average of recent years. With incredible writing that touches on the very heart of human nature, Disco Elysium: the final cut is a triumph and stands as one of the best RPGs available on Switch.
Here are some of our recommended games that address or reference aspects of mental health; be sure to share your thoughts and suggestions for the list in the comments below – we might just add to this selection if we missed something special.