Sunday, August 19, 2012

Surface: The Noise She Couldn't Make (Game Review)

I am a big fan of casual games, and hidden object/adventure games in particular. They allow one to get some fun brain exercise, and are usually not very frustrating. Casual games are a great way to take a break from the hard work of trauma recovery and ride out the tough spots.

I just finished one of these games where the topic of the story is about a girl who has DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). It depicts this somewhat exotic disorder fairly accurately, albeit showing inaccurate and even more exotic treatment.  In the game the player plays the part of a psychic who is called to a hospital to work with an unconscious "Jane Doe". Your job is to enter the girl's mind (known as an internal landscape to those of us who are very familiar with the minutia of vocabulary around this disorder) and follow the clues to find what secrets are hidden there; and unravel the mystery of her past and memories which will, hopefully, offer a cure for the girl's dire condition.

Right away the player encounters an aggressive alter personality whose job it is to protect what is hidden as well as do what she believes the executive self is too weak or timid to handle. From her aggressive and obstructive behavior it is obvious that "Noise" has gotten quite out of hand and is trying to take over the girl's executive personality (host self) entirely.

The game does a good job of showing the connections between prolonged trauma and the development of alter identities, while none of the trauma is graphically described, but just discreetly implied. It also shows fairly accurately the role of a typical protector alter identity, although in real life the threat of external violence to others is fairly low. It is a very satisfying and therapeutic experience to help this girl's situation come to a resolution and a happy ending, not just in the internal world of her mind, but in her real life as well.

The action of the game consists of traveling around the girl's inner landscape collecting items and solving problems and puzzles. The difficulty level of puzzles varies, but there is always a skip button if they seem too challenging. The collectors edition comes with a strategy guide as well and a hint button will tell the player what to do in the event that they get stuck.
 Hidden object scenes consist of a straightforward list of  objects to find in a scene which is the only downside for those familiar with this game genre. It would have been nice if the scenes were more interactive as is becoming more common these days
with these kinds of games.

In the bonus chapter that comes with the collector's edition of the game we get to see more of Liza's memories and source of internal conflict.

A fun little side activity in the game is the collecting of  glowing flowers in the various scenes which act as a  kind of game currency for a store which sells various furnishings and decor for a virtual office. There is a bookcase in the office which displays your achievements as you work your way through the game.

Eliana's Office

Since most people have little knowledge about DID, I will oblige myself and set the record straight on a couple of inaccuracies in the game. In real life, psychics are not needed to treat a case of DID. In real life a good therapist well versed in trauma therapy, preferably with experience with dissociation should suffice. People suffering with this condition can do many things to help themselves recover as well and can even sometimes work their way through their own internal landscape with the help of a journal, art, or other tools.

In addition, alter identities, even aggressive ones, need not be obliterated in order for the person to lead a balanced and productive life. If an alter is exhibiting destructive behavior towards the other parts of the self, the body, or others listening to her story and reasoning and resolving conflicts is the way to deal with this. Alters are always acting protectively but their reasoning may be flawed or based on lies they are believing. If  a safe person (including the host self) can gain their trust and find out why they feel they need to act in a destructive manner they may be able to share new information with the alter or help her examine her motives, and thereby convince her to become an ally of the executive self so that both can work together for safety and healing. The eventual result of this partnership may be integration of the two personalities, not annihilation of one as is shown in this game.

I would say the trigger risk of this game for DID survivors is fairly low and the benefits are many.  As a survivor myself, it helped to have a kind of visual representation for the kinds of things we try to contain within our minds like secrets, information, and memories too painful to face consciously.

You can purchase the collector's edition of the game here


Ann Marie said...

This is an extremely good review on the "game." It felt like solid evidence that something could be learned from something "played." Hehehe I wonder how long our alters have been trying to convince us of this :)

I included a few quotes in our News blog ... I don't think its well read yet because we are just beginning, but your review is certainly worthy of extra care and attention!

Always our best,

Shamai said...

OMG! I would LOVE to play this game. Where do you find it???
LOVE the pic of your YOU!!!

Eliana Hephzibah said...

Oh my bad... I meant to put a link to where you can get it in the post. I'll edit it right now. Check the post again and you'll see where you can get it!

Eliana Hephzibah said...

Welcome Ann! I am perusing your news blog right now. I am finding it pretty confusing to navigate, but I know it is new so I trust you are working out the bugs. I would like to participate on there! Thanks for visiting today!

Eliana Hephzibah said...

Welcome Ann! I am perusing your news blog right now. I am finding it pretty confusing to navigate, but I know it is new so I trust you are working out the bugs. I would like to participate on there! Thanks for visiting today!

Ann Marie said...

Hey Eliana!! Thanks for having stopped over! We worked through a few bugs today with the elements added to Bravenet and some of the sidebar links. It is going to be getting a system down ... but who better to do that other than a multiple specializing in systems!

We'd love to have you back again! I'm not sure if you came before or after we added the work from the 19th, but hopefully we work through issues in keep our best time (getting things in at an updated rate). Sooooo much to do and we're having so much fun with it :) Come AGAIN!!! I'd love to have you make a message post to see what's in your minds :)

Our best always,

jumpinginpuddles said...

interesting game i wouldnt play it but i did find the revue really interesting, thanks for stopping by our blog i appreciate the validation you gave us.

multiple moments of me