The Thin Silence is an adventure game that explores a dark fantasy world. It also delves into the struggles of depression, so indie developer Two PM Studios has pledged to donate 10 cents of every sale to the Australian gaming-based nonprofit CheckPoint. The game will launch in Steam Early Access for PC on April 27, and it will be available on the Steam platform, Itch.io marketplace, and the Humble Bundle store.
Players guide protagonist Ezra Westmark through a personal journey across a landscape that blends the medieval with the modern. In one scene, he’s traversing a torch-lit dungeon, and in another, he sits down at a computer screen. He encounters both environmental puzzles as well as hacking mini-games.
“When we started making The Thin Silence, we didn’t know we were making a game about mental health,” said Two PM’s technical director Ben Follington in a statement. “I wasn’t really comfortable with that being a leading theme of the game for a lot of development. There’s a lot of shame and fear about opening up about these things, video games are ‘fun’ after all.”
The Brisbane-based studio has two people, programmer and artist Follington and game designer, level designer, and writer Ricky James. It’s been working on The Thin Silence since 2013, which is its first big release. Eventually, Follington discovered that developing the game could help him work through some of his own battle with mental health issues. In the above trailer, he discusses how he eventually came to include these themes in The Thin Silence.
Two PM decided to team up with CheckPoint because of its mission to connect mental health and gaming resources. One of its major initiatives is GamerMates, a support group based around games where folks play together in a positive community. It also contributes to research into how gaming can contribute to emotional well-being.
These are benefits that James discovered while developing The Thin Silence. It wasn’t a cure-all experience, but working on the game was part of his process to confront some of the issues he was struggling with.
“If you learn to look at your problems and talk about your problems and actually acknowledge that you have problems, then you can fix them,” said James in the trailer. “And it didn’t fix my problems, making the game, but it made me think about them and it made me talk about them. And then I think of a solution.”