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Sym Perfectly Portrays Social Anxiety through Gaming

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There are a lot of platformers out there, all of different difficulties, different shapes and sizes… and then there are games that have you immersed in a world you can recognize, because you’ve been there at some point in your life. They make you think, they make you stop for a moment and wonder about others, about yourself…

This is what Sym did to me.

Sym, by Atrax Games, is the story of a teenage boy named Josh who is stuck in a maze made out of reality and his own world, created to hide from his fears and issues with social anxiety. You will need to guide him through the mazes, avoiding enemies and traps, in search for the exit door. In other words, play as someone you can relate to, because we all have fears and anxiety troubles at some point in our lives. This is why I recognized myself in this game, and most likely why I could be so easily immersed into it.

You must really keep your calm and think before you act, because one false move and you’re dead.

At first glance, I didn’t know what to expect, aside from the game’s description. With no music to greet me during the menu, I was a bit disappointed… however this changed quite rapidly as I dug deeper into the game. The tutorial was straight forward, and I could make it to my first stage (and many deaths…) easily. As you go through the game, you encounter several new enemies which will have your brains working to solve the puzzles you are faced with. The mazes are not so simple: Josh goes from one world to the other to get through them. Sym offers two worlds in one stage: a white and a black one. One represents the normal world – where everyone can see him and ‘judge’ him – and the ‘blanket’ world – where he can hide in his ‘cocoon’ and be safe, or so he thinks…

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Both worlds have their own enemies and traps and the more you dig deeper into the game, the more difficult they get. You must really keep your calm and think before you act, because one false move and you’re dead. It kind of reminded me of Super Meat Boy, but not as table-flipping hard. This game is more about figuring out where to go than having to be fast and winning. It’s about a boy’s social survival and the many questions he has about life.

Sym is a little harder to rate than usual, as this game hits people on a psychological level. Should it be rated on the moral of its story, or on the difficulty? Do we want to look at the graphics, or delve deeper in the amazing soundtrack. So let’s take a look at the technical properties of the game.

I highly suggest you pick up this game […]

Graphically speaking, despite the fact that Sym is in black and white, the game is visually appealing. The sketch-like drawings are perfect for the theme of the game. Although I do have to say that playing for a long time in a black and white setting can get hard on some people’s eyes, like mine. Then again, I play for very long sessions at a time, so perhaps this is just an after-effect.

I found the difficulty level of the game to be quite reasonable, on average, but also was frustrated on some levels as I kept dying and had to start over again. Like any good platformers, of course, but for a game that has such deep meaning, I thought the difficulty of some puzzles were a bit too high. Personal opinion, of course.

I have mentioned earlier that the music is also wonderful. It changes as Josh goes to and from both worlds, which is a very nice addition, amplifying the fact that the protagonist feels different about the two. I fell in love with it as soon as the first track started.

All in all, Sym is a great game if you love platformers, puzzles, and like to relate to something. I highly suggest you pick up this game and, for the very cheap price it is advertised at on Steam, it is well worth it!

Sym
  • Gameplay
  • Sounds and music
  • Eye Candy
  • Immersion

Summary

THE GOOD
Great Sountrack
Easy game immersion
Fun puzzles

THE BAD
Can be too hard for some

4

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