It's very rare to see a game at a conference like Pocket Gamer Connects that truly moves you. Yeah, you'll see games that are exciting, visually beautiful, or mechanically interesting. But few that make your heart truly ache.
Shadow's Edge is one such game. A totally-free experience on mobile, it's designed to help teenagers and young adults who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses to cope with the anxiety and depression that comes with such a diagnosis.
To do this, players navigate a world that has fallen into disrepair, finding journal pages to fill in and spots to graffiti over and bring the broken city back to life.
That's all one big metaphor, of course. The city is your broken self, a self that no longer feels full of life and joy. That's what depression can feel like for some people.
The journal pages aren't just diary entries, but opportunities to answer self-reflective questions about how you're feeling. They probe you to consider your priorities in life, how you cope with certain emotions, where you could be improving.
Graffiti sections are an area for some creative self-expression. You're given a blank wall and the tools to fill it full of colour. There are templates to help you out if you're not too good at drawing, but still want to make something beautiful.
The developers showed us some of the things Shadow's Edge players have made so far. Some of them were reminders that life can get better, small bursts of optimism shared with players around the world.
Others were heart-breaking reminders that these are real people, feeling real pain. Struggling. But others come to their aid - likes and other "reactions" can be left on a post, to show your support or sympathy.
As you progress through the game, the world starts to get a little brighter. It doesn't wipe away the broken elements, but it grows over them. The sun finally comes up. You can still see the wreckage from before, but now there's something new, a reminder that things can change for the better.
Resonance House is trying its best to get Shadow's Edge approved as a therapy tool. The groundwork is already there - I recognised questions within the game's journal entries from my own adventures in anxiety therapy.
And the art style and urban stylings may look a little goofy, but there's a lot of heart and love underneath it all. There's absolutely no cynicism in Shadow's Edge. It's a game about getting better, about reflecting on how you grow and what matters to you. It recognises that the pain will always be there, but that it doesn't have to control you or define you.
Shadow's Edge will not cure anxiety or depression. If you're suffering, then medical help is still the best route. But if you need something to ease the burden a little, it might be worth a look.