4 Life-Changing Games That Lifted People Out Of Depression

Video games are more than just video games.

Story Highlights

  • After facing the world of Dark Souls, you start to believe in yourself again.
  • Subnautica and Skyrim are beautiful games that can make you forget you were ever sad.
  • The gameplay loop of Death Stranding is soothing and helps with depression.

Clinical Depression often goes underdiagnosed, and when it comes to mental health, many people, especially in Pakistan, are wholly reluctant to seek help. Even in my 5 years as a medical student, I’ve seen many students, some of which were my close friends, who were diagnosed with depression and were actively taking medication to fight it.

This article is a tribute to all those people who were or still are suffering from this debilitating disease. Let’s look at 4 games that helped people stave off depression just by playing them.

Dark Souls

To nobody’s surprise, Dark Souls, one of the hardest games to ever see the light of day, is the very game that stood by the side of many players against their depression. Granted, some people like me actually entered depression when trying to fight Ornstein and Smough at once, but I digress.

The concepts and ideas touched by Dark Souls are no less than therapy. In the face of a world in shambles, you are but a lone warrior against an army of enemies, with nothing but your sword, your wits, and the light in your heart. Against overwhelming odds and in the bleakest of worlds, you pick up your sword to go fulfill your duty. Even when there is no way forward and you’re getting bashed by that one boss again and again, you simply go back, pick up your sword, throw your head down, and fight them as many times as it takes, until you finally emerge victorious.

And with every little victory, every step you take to defeating the 4 lords, and every time you overcome overwhelming odds, it makes you look at yourself in a new light and confidence. If you can beat Dark Souls, you can achieve anything.

People with clinical depression present with a lack of motivation, drive, and a persistent feeling of sadness and hopelessness. By ending Dark Souls, people suffering from depressive symptoms start to feel hopeful, regain their self-confidence, and begin to take care of themselves once again.

“The souls that have seen the darkest days can shine the brightest light”.

No, Dark Souls isn’t the medical treatment for depression, but if you feel like you’re suffering from depression, try playing Dark Souls, it might help more than you think. And remember, don’t you dare go hollow.

How Dark Souls helped me move past depression.
byu/lucid-state indarksouls


If someone asked me to describe Subnautica in one word, I’d probably say it’s serene. In a crash landing, you get stuck on an unknown planet called 4546b with no other equipment but your damaged PDA and a life pod. To your surprise, as far as you can see, there is no land in sight, and almost the entire planet is submerged in water. In the far distance, you can make out the remains of your spaceship, but that’s about it.

What follows is a dive into the shallow and sometimes immensely deep waters of Planet 4546 to figure out a way off this planet, until you start to discover something strange going on in the planet.

But the world and your journey on this lonesome planet are nothing short of beautiful. The waters are teeming with life in the form of strange but enchanting flora and fauna and the only way to go is down.

Subnautica is a very strange game. If you don’t know what thalassophobia is, you’re in to discover one of the scariest phobias in a very hands-on way. And if you have thalassophobia, the game might help you overcome it. 

But most importantly, the calming sounds of the water drumming against your ears, the clicking noises of various fishes in the ocean, and the visual eye candy of an alien planet you’ve never seen before will definitely soothe you when you’re facing anxiety, stress, and depression.

Deep underwater in Subnautica | Source: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Deep underwater in Subnautica | Source: Unknown Worlds Entertainment


Why Skyrim made it to this list is quite self-explanatory. I’ve spent nearly 150 hours playing the Elder Scrolls 5, and while these are rookie numbers compared to some people, I never had any depression to begin with. But some people I know who do have depression constantly go back to this one game, just so they can step into a foreign world from a different time once again.

There are dragons, draugrs, ogres, vampires, spiders, and even giants, and every one of them is out for blood. But there are also mountains with gushing waterfalls, hidden lakes within the lushest of forests, quaint towns budding with life, and massive temples full of secrets.

If you’re distressed by anything that happened to you in real life, Skyrim provides an explorative escape into one of the prettiest worlds ever made in a video game.

Dragons flying in Skyrim | Source: Bethesda
Dragons flying in Skyrim | Source: Bethesda

Death Stranding

Death Stranding, before its release, was one of the most hyped games of 2019, and in no small part due to it being produced and directed by Hideo Kojima himself. After it was released, the reception was extremely mixed. Many people dubbed the game a “walking simulator”, and after playing the game, I do understand why they hold this sentiment.

But Death Stranding is so much more than that. The world of the game is presented quite similarly to Dark Souls, where one lone porter delivers packages to people with danger lurking around every corner. And with every careful step you take towards your destination, laden with tens of kilograms of containers on your back, scaling heights, depths, or dangers of the otherworldly nature, all so you can deliver a package to its eagerly awaiting owner, you’re left with a certain sense of peace and calm.

Many people find Death Stranding boring, but when life isn’t going your way, or you just need some medium that can help distract you when it gets sad and hopeless, spend a couple of hours in this masterpiece and you’ll start to see this game in a new light.

Traversal in Death Stranding | Source: Kojima Productions
Traversal in Death Stranding | Source: Kojima Productions
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Ahmad's idea of a successful life involves three things: unlimited time to play video games, a chiseled body with abs that can grate cheese, and all-you-can-eat buffets at all times (ironic, I know). This final-year medical student is a religious enjoyer of all categories of video games and has developed full-fledged opinions on games you've probably never even heard of. As an opinion writer at eXputer, he combines all of his gaming, gym, and medical knowledge to deliver content you won't find anywhere on the World Wide Web.

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