Shut In is a short point and click horror game based on suffering from depression and agoraphobia, or being a shut in, someone who doesn’t leave their home. You play as an unnamed character. They don’t take care of themselves and have fairly low self-esteem. In game instead of the game just telling you hey you can’t do this framed by as the game just saying it, instead it’s framed as though it’s your inner voice, and it’s a fairly cruel cuntcake that belittles you constantly.
I can’t really speak much about the game because it’s under an hour long, you can beat the game in under ten minutes, your first playthrough to find some items, which are all easy to find but you have to figure out how to get to them, might increase the completion time to upwards of an hour by the dev’s estimate. I put over two hours into my first run and had to ask one of the publisher’s PR people for help with it because one thing just didn’t click with me and I spent an unnecessarily exorbitant amount of time looking for it, over an hour, and it was right in front of my face. I’m a derp, I know.
It’s a pretty quick game obviously but it’s sufficiently creepy, I wouldn’t call it outright scary though. The house is… wrong, be it rooms that don’t exist, or only exist for a short time, things happening that clearly aren’t real, the voice in your head being a cunt. There’s a lot of weirdness to it, and by the end you can get multiple endings, at least one good and one secret, I believe there’s also a bad end. If there’s a bad end then I don’t think it’ll be too different from the good end.
The whole game runs around trying to ‘get fresh air’, IE to leave the house for the first time in who knows how many months. But for that you also should do things like put on proper clothes, deal with personal hygiene, and eat, as well as looking for a way out of the house. You don’t necessarily have to do all those things other than trying to get out of the house anyways. The voice talks to you, praises and belittles you for doing everything on the checklist it gave you in the first place, because again, it’s a cunt.
I previously mentioned how I like games like this that deal with mental illness, this is another one that hits home for me. I have such extreme social anxiety that I have trouble leaving my house simply because of my fear of being interacted with on top of my just low self esteem and the like. That cuntcake voice that tells you you don’t want to leave, that the world outside is scary, that it’s only safe in your house, that you’re a nothing person so you shouldn’t leave, that you don’t deserve anything so you should stay exactly as you are and sleep all day, etc. that shit is very real. Looking outside and just seeing a hell-like landscape because that’s what being out there is to you. Like this all seems fantastical but it’s not, if you have a phobia you know that, but most people just have things that they don’t like, or really hate. Not shit that damn near gives them panic attacks at the THOUGHT of doing them let alone actually doing them. At home I leave the house once a week because I’m forced to and I’ve had to prepare and calm myself every single time and pause a lot after leaving to prevent a panic attack as best as I can. So the voice talking smack about you to you, the fear of leaving, it’s all there, it’s all real, and it all fucking sucks.
Obviously this game takes it a bit further because it dramatizes it and general feelings are turned into real things, for instance just leaving the 2nd floor where the character lives, they have to go down some steps, however that feels like a long, arduous task, just to go down steps because that’s far away from the comfort and safety of their bed. So, instead of just having a stairwell, you have a broken stairwell where you have to find something to use as a rope to then climb down what feels like multiple floors to get to the first floor of the house. Things like that, which help people kind of understand what it FEELS like. I find a fundamental issue with that sometimes, if people don’t know the experience, they might not understand the association between what’s on screen and the feeling it’s trying to show. That’s the one issue I always have with any of these games, I’m never sure if people are going to get it or not because they don’t suffer from the issue. I’m always glad when people make the games though, even if some people don’t understand it, it’s good to have games like this because people who DO get it, they see that they’re not alone, that other people might understand it to a degree.
So yeah anyways, overall I really like it, it’s simple and short and I’m all for that, the only issues I had were some of the solutions were complicated, only two of them though, but once I understood them I was fine. Also there’s no replay value other than finding the other endings and seeing all the deaths you can find in the game, to which there are many.
Shut In was developed by Cael O’Sullivan.
Point of Sale: itch.io, Game Jolt, Steam.
A review copy of the game was provided by the publishers, Hidden Track.
darkmikasonfire awards Shut In the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.