I recently reviewed Rise of Insanity for Nintendo Switch. You can read my completely spoiler free discussion about it riiiiiggght here! So, my opinion of Rise of Insanity is very mixed. I shall give you a little summary: the plot twist is too obvious, there’s too much reading, the jump scares are fleeting scares. On the flip side the pacing is good, the environment design is good and the price point is good. But what I’d really like to discuss is Rise of Insanity’s treatment of the mentally ill.
In the game you play as Dr Stephen Dowell, and sometimes his alter-ego Eddie. My understanding is that Dr Dowell is a quack (hence the collectable in the game being rubber ducks… Well, this is the theory I subscribe to anyway). He feels that his wife cheated on him with his alter-ego Eddie, and became pregnant. Due to this perception, he devises a way to hypnotise Eddie into murdering his wife and child (although Eddie honestly seems the nicer of the two). This is a plot twist that is painfully obvious from the beginning, and perhaps a lazy one.
Mental health has a big stigma around it, especially the conditions that are less well known or experienced. What I want to challenge is the unimaginative choice of using something like DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) to portray a murderous villain by saying “oh it was him all along, he’s just got alters”. For me, this is not scary for several reasons.
Firstly, it’s based in reality but it’s not realistic. People with DID are not all psychopathic murders. In fact, alters can often arise as a result of trauma or from the need for protection. People with DID are often the victims, not the big bad. This is an awful stigma that follows people around because in the past it’s been an easy troupe for creating a “different” bad guy. Now I’m not saying that horror has to be based in what can happen, things like ghosts and werewolves etc can be horrifying, but they aren’t based in reality and don’t have real life consequences for sufferers.
Secondly, I just think it’s antiquated to be using mental health as a horror troupe. We are moving into an age where we are encouraging people to be more open and accepting of mental health issues, and if the only exposure we have to certain things is through the lens of a villain or a horror, it’s really not helpful.
Now, I know the creators of Rise of Insanity weren’t setting out to hurt anyone. They just wanted to create an interesting horror experience, primarily for VR I think. But I do believe it’s our responsibility to make sure that we are being creative without being damaging.
I understand that I as an individual who does not have DID or know anyone with it cannot talk on this subject with much authority. I’m merely putting forth my opinions. I’d love to hear from people who may have different or more informed opinions, so please do let me know.Become a Patron!