You are locked inside your home, every day seems the same, and the prospect of going outside is frightening. No, I'm not talking about real life – this is the premise behind the newly released dark comedy adventure, Shut In.
Originally conceived as a freeware game called Cage, this updated and rebranded version is a short narrative-focused adventure that aim to capture the struggles of depression and agoraphobia, but in an entertaining way. The player's goal is simple: “Get out of bed, go outside, and get some fresh air.” Easier said than done, as the game places increasingly challenging obstacles in your way, like an oven that explodes when you attempt to make breakfast and a shower that unleashes nasty bugs in lieu of clean water. In the likely chance that you die in game, you will wake up back in bed to once again confront your sinister home and debilitating mental health.
Shut In is a very personal project from its creator, Cael O'Sullivan, who drew from his own experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, or more specifically, the mental toll of being stuck in quarantine. Inspired by both the point-and-click adventure and survival horror genres, the game is presented in a chunky pixel art style with dim lighting, making the atmosphere feel suitably claustrophobic. Though the subject matter may be quite serious, however, Shut In promises a “satirical look at the struggles of self-care, motivation, and leaving home.” With an antagonistic narrator guiding you through, expect a dose of black humor with your horror; surely a difficult balance to strike.
Just in time for Halloween, Shut In is available today on Steam for Windows and Mac. So if you can’t safely go out, why not stay in and play video games at home?