This is not the typical horror game about fighting monsters or ghosts. Instead, What Happened is focused on the psychological, showing the complexities and dangers of the human mind. The game puts you in the perspective of Stiles, a teenager facing crippling depression and anxiety as his entire life is changed by a tragedy.
What Happened is may not be for the faint of heart, as it navigates highly sensitive subjects of mental health and suicide, but it tells its story perfectly. Throughout the game, you can see how Stiles’ mental state keeps getting worse. You really feel like you are in his shoes and experience everything from his perspective. The negative thoughts in his head arise from everything bad that has been done to him.
What Happened does a good job at showing how someone can have so much turmoil within them, and yet nobody around them realizes what is happening.
I found Stiles’ negative thoughts and experiences to be relatable to how these happen in real life. When someone is told they are are worthless enough times, they start believing it themselves. Bullying is especially dangerous in high school, which can be an extremely stressful time for teenagers, and they are expected to just act normal and push through like nothing is happening.
What Happened goes further, showing how negative thoughts can alter memories, turning apologetic conversations into taunting ones. Over time, every little thing just builds up on the next, until it becomes unbearable. Stiles’ dark thoughts fester, making him feel alone and isolated, even though he actually has someone in his life who wants to help him. I think one of the biggest messages of What Happened is to always try talking to someone when you are low: you will find you are not alone.
I can honestly say What Happened is one of the most interesting games I have ever played. The gameplay is simple, alternating exploration with engaging puzzles and moments of mystery. The environments changes in unexpected ways to throw you off guard. Along the way there are hidden memories that you can find, which can be easily missed if you are not looking for them.
Along with the environments, the background music and sounds are also spot on in shaping the world of What Happened. They intensify the mood of the game and really make you feel what is going on, ramping up the terror when things start to go wrong. You can tell a lot of thought went behind every aspect of What Happened.
What Happened can help players understand what can drive a person to such a dark place; how someone can desperately want help but be too scared to ask, held back by negative thoughts and overwhelming loneliness. In the end, all it takes is one person to offer their help persistently to lead them out of the dark. Mental health is a serious topic that always needs more attention, and developer Genius Slackers took a risk by tackling such a serious topic.
I recommend playing What Happened game because of the strong and unique message it sends, and how well the game is put together. Try it if you want to experience something unique which can change your perspective on depression and anxiety, and remember that you never really know everything someone might be going through.