Eliza is a very 2010s game – it is an interactive visual novel centred around the development of a faceless and distinctly corporatised therapy process (the titular Eliza), the grief & mental health struggles of its creator Evelyn, and how her renewed relationships with those around her impact on the clients of the therapy service. So, you know, it’s not exactly Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It’s framed in ‘realism’. Conversation isn’t full of snippy quotes, and the universe is displayed in dour lighting and sadness. It’s a game for those who have experienced therapy, or have experienced a particular form of mental illness – one that encourages isolation.
Maybe I’m not doing the best job of selling it. It’s a tough task. Evelyn acting as a proxy for all the characters to talk about all their failures over and over is not something you present at E3. But I think it is an interesting and ultimately worthwhile game to play; while it can appear like a rather melodramatic and navel-gazing look at the mental health process, Evelyn’s journey is less about the therapy process and more about what it means to feel parts of life again, and just maybe, how those around her can also feel the same way. For those critical of the ideology of therapy, it is more even-handed than one would expect; self-empowerment outside of the medical profession’s strict guidelines is given great focus, while the benefits many find in a distinctly clinical environment are also given fair consideration. Give the game a go, honestly.