Ad Infinitum: A Game About PTSD?

Well it’s been a while since my last update. My apologies for this, I’ve been caught up with work lately and just felt like playing games rather than talking about them. 

Anyway, recently I saw the trailer for the game at the top of this post. Ad Infinitum caught my eye because of the WW1 setting of the game. It’s an Amnesia style horror game and there is a suitably unsettling creature involved in the preceedings. However, something I noticed during the trailer is that the monster doesn’t seem that overly hostile to the player. In the trailer we see the monster on two occassions:

  1. The player character takes shelter next to a Mk1 Tank and looks around to survey their surroundings. He looks back at the tank to see a ghoulish hand scrape across the metal work as it disappears.
  2. the player character is walking down a trenchway with nothing around him and takes a second to collect himself looking down at his boots. When he looks back up, the creature has appeared and brings itself to full height as the player runs away.
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Currently the best picture of the creature available

The fact that the creature appears out of thin air in both cases makes me believe that it’s a hallucination created by the character’s fraying psychological wellbeing. There has been a small exert of additional gameplay released that shows the player character dodging artillery fire and crawling through the mud and blood during a gas attack. The Great War was the first engagement of its kind, the continuous barrages of artillery fire and the introduction of terror weapons (flamethrowers and chemical gas) put a lot of stress on the soldiers hiding in their foxholes. At the time, this battle fatigue wasn’t understood and many officers believed it to be cowardice and many sufferers were executed for refusing to fight.

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Shell shocked soldier in a trench during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette during the Somme Offensive in September 1916

Above is possibly the most famous photo ever taken of Shell Shock. The demonic features of the sufferer’s face showing the damage that his service at the frontline has caused. In the footage, the sector the player finds themself in is an active battleground which makes me less inclined to believe it’s an actual creature stalking the character, surely it would have been killed by a patrol or a stray artillery shell. Personally I believe the creature is a manifestation of the character’s distress in the situation he is in.

I showed my best friend who is training to be a Mental Health Nurse the trailer for this game, and asked her what she thought and she had the same vibe about the creature as I did. Sometimes hallucinations aren’t outwardly hostile, I remember one night I hallucinated a hand on my door frame. It wasn’t openly to me but it still caused a lot of discomfort to myself. The creature design (though blurry) also reminds me of something that would have been a very common sight in the mud of No Man’s Land. The creature has long spindly arms and legs and a bloated torso, it’s very reminiscent to a decaying corpse. It strongly resembles a ghoul, an undead creature that is drawn to areas of death and masses of bodies and it was every solider’s fear that they would one day join their brothers in arms in an eternal slumber in the mud.

The name of the game also suggests that PTSD may be a driving force in the game. “Ad Infinitum” is latin for forevermore or to infinity. The character is clearly going to receive a lot of pain that he will not be able to escape. The classic view of the condition. Of course this is just all speculation at this point, for all I really know it could just be a pale monstor lurking about the trenches. WW1 was a war that had several very famous paranormal events take place, the Angels of Mons being the most famous*. Only time will tell…

*The Angels of Mons were believed to be a group of the Christian God’s angels who descended to the battlefield to protect British soldiers that had been outflanked by an incoming German Force

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5 thoughts on “Ad Infinitum: A Game About PTSD?

  1. It would be interesting if they used a vampire to represent PTSD or other type of psychological stress, given the history of vampires to represent taboo topics in our society (e.g., Dracula representing modernity and the fear of female empowerment [or of the female expression of sexuality] found in Victorian England). Considering the stigma of mental health during WWI (and now), the use of the vampire motif would be very thematically appropriate!

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    1. Yeah it would be very interesting! Though as I’ve just been reading your comment I think the creature might be more a ghoul like creature. Hanging about the mass graveyard of the War. Still allows for the Vampire Motif though ^_^

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    2. Personally I think any way of showing the mental fatigue the soldiers of the Great War were under in a nuanced and subtle way other than “I AM SAD NOW” is really good. I think making it into an Amnesia like game is a good move

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      1. Agreed. Nuance is always more emotionally powerful than hitting someone over the head with a proverbial baseball bat. and having the player experience a slow unfolding of a story can keep players invested in more difficult themes (I think), because they want to know what happens next.

        I’m not a huge fan of first-person shooters, but this seems like one I will be keeping my eye on, for the story if nothing else.

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      2. Yeah I’m not usually a fan of horror games myself but I really love the WW1 setting as you may have gotten from my BF1 posts >.>

        I’ll definitely be looking at this one over the next few months because I have this need to consume any media revolving around the Great War.

        Liked by 1 person

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