I hopped back onto Game Pass looking for my next game and was drawn to the artwork of Fractured Minds. It’s described as a puzzle game that explores mental health issues. Although it is a video game, I’d describe this more as a short artistic exploration that can be finished in less than hour. Each chapter is incredibly short and straight-forward. The controls are simple, and while not all of the chapters resonated with me, I did like exploring each theme. As always, there are spoilers, so read at your own discretion.
Achievements in the game are awarded for completing chapters, but there are a couple that are nestled within the chapters themselves. In the first chapter, you’re locked in a room looking for a way out. All you need is the key, but the game quickly showcases how the simplest tasks may trigger someone. For the first hidden achievement, you need to keep picking up keys. 7 wrong keys to be exact.
The feelings conveyed are relatable and while this is not a horror game, it is a bit unnerving. You’re not really sure what to expect as you walk into each room. Trying to even do the simplest tasks can trigger a change in the environment that you’re not always prepared for.
As you move through the chapters, you find that you are not always alone. In Chapter 4: Paranoia, there is an easily missed achievement. If you stand by the crosswalk for long enough, a creepy tall “thing” will appear. This takes a while to happen, several minutes in some cases, so be patient. Once you’ve done this, cross the street to proceed with the puzzle, but avoid the cars. Being hit by one restarts the level.
Seeing him unnerves me and he keeps appearing as you progress through the story. You’re not really sure who he is or what his purpose is at this point.
The game has a simplistic design, but some of the chapters and rooms really stood out to me. The imagery conveys feelings really well. Observing little things in the environment helps you to see the bigger picture about the tall thing that keeps appearing.
Another hidden achievement can be found in Chapter 5: Sinking. As you’re walking around the room trying to find a way to bypass the alarm system, you’ll see red zones on the floor. Step into these 3 times to unlock the achievement. Make sure to be careful though. Stepping into a red zone restarts the level so if you’re trying to progress forward, you need to avoid being detected. I really liked the ambiance of this level.
The final chapter has you trying to regain access to your heart. While the game isn’t scary, I did jump a little because I was not expecting to find the tall thing lingering behind me. Once you walk out of the chamber with your heart, you’re locked in with this guy.
I wasn’t sure how to solve this puzzle, but I accidentally did by just running around the room turning all of the valves repeatedly. Once you break all of the machines, you can walk back into the chamber for your final encounter.
This final video is the conclusion to the game.
Although this is not a traditional game, I did enjoy the experience. It’s a quick exploration into mental health that is done is a creative way. While the puzzling aspect of the game leaves much to be desired, the overall message of the game and its ability to shed light on what is the everyday reality for many people is worth the play through.