Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
As madness goes, this bout’s not half-bad. It’s quiet, it’s dark, and the complexities of the world have been compressed into clear, punchy text. Crazy, sure, but the kind of crazy one could get used to.
But the rest of Psychiatric Evaluation won’t give you that chance. The game starts as a text adventure, the sort of prose-only antique that was so popular in the late ’70s. Talk to a doctor—and all you can do at the beginning is talk to a doctor, unless you obsess yourself with the Rickroll command—and your “sanity” improves. The graphics and music improve alongside your ailing mind. A few more sessions with the doc, and the world transforms from silent text into bright graphics and foreboding, synth-y music. It still looks old, but now you can see.
And with sight comes the ability to traverse the tiny asylum, letting you search for an exit. But not all paths are open to those of sound mind. Talking to fellow patients lowers your sanity, and finding your way out requires frequent relapses and rehabilitations.
The game likens lifting the fog of the mind to the improvement of its technology, but the design doesn’t hold up its end of the metaphor. Some nonsensical actions are only available when you’re sane, while recalling your memories can only be done when you’re completely out of your mind. That is, unless we’re all a little bit crazy, and Psychiatric Evaluation is the only sane one left…