Need some tips on helping a loved one in a time of need? Play your options right and missed messages can give you an idea on how to get that conversation started.
I stumbled across a little game called missed messages. Aside from its beautiful and charming art style and lo-fi soundtrack, it is a short visual novel about romance, memes, and the horrors that mental health can have on not only the person, but those around them. There are four different endings, and because each playthrough is only a few minutes, its insane replay value can have you completing this game in under half an hour.
You are a character who’s most probably college aged. As you try to work, you get AirDropped from "goth gf’s iPhone," and it is up to you whether you answer it or not. In fact, every single interaction is up to you. You can spend the whole day working and be a reclusive shut-in, answer the message and have a fun time, or you can pay attention to the things outside of your laptop.
I want to try and keep this piece as spoiler-free as possible, since I do recommend giving this game a go. However, I will say that failure to do the ‘right’ thing will cause you to get an ending that will induce an immense uneasiness for the rest of your time playing. This gives me Undertale vibes from when you complete the genocide route, because you’ll never get the perfect ending again no matter how many times you replay it. In fact, in missed messages this feeling is even more deeply routed, since the consequences are more graphic and close-to-home in nature, thus being borderline horror-provoking because of its shock factor and rapid escalation. You didn’t do anything wrong, but you didn’t do the right thing either; and for that you are severely punished. This bad ending will hit you with the massive realization that you need to pay more attention to your surroundings in your next playthroughs, and I can tell you firsthand that I’m scared to get that ending again—even though I have got it more than once at this point.
After a bit of trial and error—once you manage get on track to getting the best ending in missed messages—the idea behind this game becomes clear. As a friend, while it’s not your sole responsibility to nurse them and be their only therapist, missed messages reminds you that you can definitely act as a supportive figure and guide them in the right direction; and that’s enough to be a crazy amount of help. The way that these characters speak and interact with each other seems so real. I can imagine talking with my friends in a similar manner to the characters in this game. Perhaps that’s because I’m a similar age to them, but that’s besides the point.
You really start to appreciate the tone in which they talk to each other once you start getting into the juice of the mental health advocacy. The message of "check-up-on-your-friends-before-it’s-too-late" isn’t patronizing or in your face, but rather it’s rewarding. The way it’s shown is so raw and emotional, much like real life. Your relationship with that person will deepen because of the amount of trust and support you have shown for that person, and that in itself is romantic, but in a wholesome friend way.
While it may be an awkward conversation to initiate, if you know someone in your life is having a hard time with their mental health, it is important to talk with them and lend your ear to them. This may seem obvious and over-said, but you really appreciate this sentiment after you get that bad ending, because it reminds you that the worst can happen at any time. It’ll never be your fault; however, you will be faced with an awful amount of guilt regardless.
I don’t advise people who are easily triggered by the themes of mental health to experience this game first-hand. There are plenty of playthroughs on YouTube that you can simply watch. missed messages is a game that aims to bring awareness to mental health, but in slightly jarring ways. If you’re up for the psychological challenge though, missed messages is a short, sweet, and beautiful game that reminds you to take care of those that you love. Sometimes, all they need is a meaningful conversation to help set them up to the path of recovery.