While the primary goal of video games is usually to transport players to new places and challenge with brain-teasing puzzles, there have been an increasing number of attempts in recent years to tackle serious topics. To that end, indie Spanish developer Calathea Game Studio’s upcoming first-person adventure Inner Ashes seeks to both educate and entertain with a narrative told from the perspective of a man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Though precise story details are intentionally sparse, players will explore the life and mind of Henry as he struggles with the advancing effects of memory loss. Solving puzzles will allow Henry to remember more about his life and events of the past, gradually filling out forgotten memories. Ultimately, he hopes to resolve the mystery of why he and his daughter Enid have grown estranged over the years.
Inner Ashes takes place both in the real world and in Henry’s mind, with the environments and mechanics of both illustrating in various ways how the perceptions and mental states of a dementia patient are distorted and altered. Along the way, it will incorporate real-world techniques that Alzheimer’s patients use to navigate their daily lives. For instance, in Henry’s home you will use sticky notes placed in strategic locations to help understand various objects and their uses, while solving tangram puzzles will help stimulate Henry’s memories of Enid. In the strange and dreamlike worlds representing the protagonist’s subconscious, you will experience representations of disorientation, changes in mood, and memory loss, clearly embodying the effects of such deterioration of the brain.
Inner Ashes is scheduled to arrive exclusively on PlayStation 4 later this year. For more information about the game, head over to its official website and Facebook page, and check out the lengthy gameplay footage released so far.