'Please Knock on My Door' is a digital life of depression

Don't let the subject matter scare you away.

Michael Levall

At first, depression doesn't sound like the most thrilling topic to explore in a video game. It's antithetical to the boisterous, action-packed, neon-tinted tone that generally dominates the industry -- but that doesn't mean depression doesn't make for a compelling game. After all, video games are immersive experiences that can open up new worlds to people across the globe, inviting players to feel what life is like in another body, on another planet, in another universe. In another mind.

Please Knock on My Door is a simple game about a person living with depression. The protagonist, a blocky, inky-black character, lives a fairly standard life: Wake up, go to work, come home, repeat. The days are punctuated with mundane tasks like making a sandwich or showering, but each one carries extra weight as it drains -- or bolsters -- the main character's mental fortitude.

Please Knock on My Door drives home the feelings of intense lethargy, self-doubt and numbness that can constantly assault someone living with depression. The game focuses on just one person and one story of depression, keeping the narrative contained and powerful.

For creator Michael Levall, Please Knock on My Door isn't just a story. It's a way to express to friends, family and even strangers how depression has infiltrated his own life.

"Every single thing in the game that you get to go through or read through or whatever has some kind of connection to either a true experience that I've had, just copy-pasted into the game, or it's based on an emotion that I've felt and I've extrapolated that and made a story out of it," he says.

Combined with organizations like Take This, which aims to open up the conversation about mental illness within the video game industry, Please Knock on My Door is part of a quiet movement urging people to discuss the pitfalls of depression before it consumes them or their loved ones. Please Knock on My Door is set to continue this conversation when it hits Steam later this year.

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