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Video Game / When The Darkness Comes

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ALL SPOILERS ARE UNMARKED. This game is meant to be experienced. It is free-to-play and rather short, so it's recommended to download and play this game first before proceeding.
The first screen of the game- and the most pleasant by far.

...Follow The Light.

When The Darkness Comes is an Indie Psychological Horror Game made in 2019 by Sirhaian for Windows.

The game, essentially, is a "walking simulator" that takes the player through surreal and ever-changing environments, intended to illustrate the feelings of depression and anxiety in an interactive format. You are introduced to the game by the developer, who doesn't seem to believe much in his game, and by journeying through the game and accomplishing the tasks he gives to you, you begin to find out his story. There is also a whole slew of strange shadow people NPCs and a mysterious woman on a swing.

Play it here.

Contains examples of:

  • Addressing the Player: The game accesses your computer files and puts your name into the game to speak to you directly and increase the feelings of horror.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Every other "person" the player meets in the game shuns and insults them, standing around in groups to stare at them as they pass and whisper rude things about them.
  • An Aesop: Life's meaning is ours to choose; we always have a choice to do things like seek help or create our own answers to mysteries.
  • Big Bad: The personification of the narrator's depression is keeping the mysterious woman, who is hinted to represent the will to live, prisoner inside the game, and continuously tries to get the player to kill themself.
  • But Thou Must!: The game presents buttons at various points in the game, for the purposes of answering questions. However, the player is never allowed to actually make a choice; either they only get one answer, which invariably isn't the answer they'd typically want to choose, or the answer is nullified anyway because "they didn't mean it". A rather dark version comes near the end. The player is given a button and a woman asking them questions, but they aren't allowed to move. As the woman tries in vain to make you respond, you can do nothing but stand there and fail her.
  • Content Warnings: The game begins with a warning, informing players that if they suffer from serious anxiety and depression, they should not play.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • In the aquatic level, try to fall off the platform. You'll respawn on the platform, with the walls around the platform this time.
    • In the alleyway, you can explore all routes, each having its own text. There's one route that seemingly allows you to exit the level before it's suddenly blocked if you try to enter.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: The narrator leaves the player in a room while they try and fix the game, with the instruction not to touch anything. Of course, the only way to progress is to touch the button in the middle of the room, which sends you falling to a new location. If you wait long enough, the narrator will return and outright tell you to push the button because it is the only way to progress.
  • Driven to Suicide: The entire game is indicated to be the narrator and/or the player struggling between suicidal depression and hope, with both represented as in-game characters. At the end of the game, the player is presented with the option to hang themselves. Do so and the game becomes permanently unplayable.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: In the alleyway level, the shop's entrance is blocked by some "people" you are tasked to avoid. Touching the entrance makes you be surrounded by said "people" and unable to leave, but it will then proceed to the next level.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The game reads your computer's username and screenshot of your desktop to increase your personal horror. Also, the game writes some files into your Desktop and Documents folder.
  • Hope Spot: After some horror scenes and a bit of platform hell, the player ends up in a nice, peaceful house with a couch and a TV, and are given the chance to just take it easy, as long as they can find the remote. When the TV is turned on, it's to a static channel with the sound of sirens, followed by the warning to "find a safe place" as the landscape burns down around outside and the world suddenly explodes.
  • Interactive Narrator: The game's narrator is there mostly to try and make the player follow the game and do things right, rather than tell a proper story; they're prone to getting passive-aggressive and frustrated when things don't go right, and follow the player throughout a good portion of the game.
  • Interface Spoiler: In the main menu, look at the bottom left. It's told from the very beginning of the game that it's meant to be replayed.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: What ending you get depends on what you do at the very end of the game. The player is presented with a chair and a noose at the end of the hallway. They can either keep walking and trigger the bad ending, or turn around and call for help, triggering the good ending.
  • A Light in the Distance: The "Follow The Light" segment involves the player being trapped in a black void and having to keep walking forward toward the distant, winding light. While trying to balance on a tiny beam they can't see.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • If you choose to hang yourself at the end, the game closes and is permanently ruined- trying to replay it results in a distorted title screen that will not let you play it. After all, suicide is not something you can come back from.
    • If you instead choose to answer the phone and get help, you will be teleported to a room where the woman talks to you and thanks you for saving her and seeking help.
    • At the end of the New Game Plus mode, if you go to the phone again, it will initially vanish as the depression moves it farther away and tries to get you to hang yourself, and you move to a giant chess board where representations of both the woman and the depression try to make you do what they want. Ultimately, the player answers the phone and winds up in the room again, with the woman again thanking them... but the room is now distorted and glitched.
    • Finally, the True Ending, which happens if you open and restart the game one more time, has the depression attack you outright with shadow people and a Breaking Lecture. Should you still make it, you are dropped in the Angel room from the second chapter, and press a button to finally free yourself, with the woman giving a speech about how death is just the end of life and life is still worth it.
  • New Game Plus: If you didn't choose to hang yourself the first time around, you can choose to replay the game with new content. This is actually required to get the True Ending.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: Of a sort. As the game progressively gets scarier, more things will start to look glitched. A notable example is during a "conversation" game- the button with negative answers is glitched and unusable and gets worse each round.
  • Permadeath: If you ever choose to hang yourself at the end, the game rewrites itself so that you can never play it again.
  • Psychological Horror: The main horror of the game comes not from the creepy visuals or odd occurrences, but the feelings of helplessness and anxiety it attempts to portray. There's a reason the Content Warnings at the beginning ask people with anxiety and depression to stay away from it.
  • Unnaturally Looping Location: The first trial the player has to face involves going through a door that leads into a creepy hallway, which then leads back to the room they were originally in. The narrator is also confused by this and tries to make the player leave by making the doors more and more obvious, which doesn't break the loop at all.