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An upcoming videogame takes a heartfelt look at depression in Tokyo

We expect our surgeons to have steady hands. Some of the time, our lives depend on it. But what happens when that steadiness deserts a surgeon? Like a golfer with the yips, one crisis leads to the next, spreading outwards to affect the surgeon’s professional life and his emotional state. Suddenly, the steadiness in question is both literal and figurative. The ground is trembling beneath their feet and nothing calms it down. How can our surgeon ever be made whole again?

Healing Process, a game by developer Sam L. Jones, tells the story of a surgeon who needs to be made whole again. Not too long ago, he was leading the perfect life. He was a surgeon, and a successful one at that. He had met a lovely woman at college and they were eventually betrothed. They moved back to her native Japan, and everything was going swimmingly. At least until it wasn’t. Now our surgeon needs help.

That’s the logic of surgery, isn’t it? Humans need the occasional interventions to keep everything functioning properly. That doesn’t mean that the human body is not miraculous. Rather, the miracle is that the surgical intervention is not required on a daily basis. As Healing Process’ surgeon descends further and further into a spiralling depression, he would surely agree that just making it through the day is one of life’s biggest miracles.

Surviving the day is life’s biggest miracle 

Now, in one of life’s strange turns of fate, you are the one who has to get the surgeon through the day. Everything has been going wrong for him, and at some point in the next 24 hours he will have to perform one final surgery. If he doesn’t get it just right, it’s fair to imagine that his career will be over. And so Healing Process calls upon you to guide our struggling surgeon through a series of experiences that are supposed to help him piece his life back together. At any point during the day, you can declare him ready for the surgery and see how it goes, but you only get one chance. There are no mulligans in surgery so choose wisely.

Healing Process is a multilayered story about the work—both physical and emotional—required to piece a human life back together. Some of us choose to assume this responsibility. Some of us feel that this is not our place. But the responsibility of preserving life cannot be divided along such neat lines. Sometimes life and duty compels us to help those we care about, even if it’s just in a game. Conversely, doctors who have devoted their lives to saving others sometimes need more help than they can dole out. So it goes. Everyone needs to be made whole, and there is only so much capacity to help that can go around. 

You can support Healing Process: Tokyo on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight.