Elude – Free online game to explore the connection between passion, depression, and awareness

Life is a never-ending struggle, full of rising and falling moods. Elude mirrors this struggle against the rising tide of depression, and the search for a path to happiness. Yet happiness remains elusive. Again and again, losing passion for anything in life, you plunge into depression. Only by continually calling out to the world can you find experiences that resonate, allowing you to ascend into happiness.

For people who have never experienced it before, depression is difficult to understand. It is not simply sadness, as many may think; it is more akin to an all-encompassing hopelessness, a failure to connect to or derive meaning from the outside world. By tapping into the experiential aspects of the video game medium, Elude's metaphorical model for depression serves to bring awareness to the realities of depression by creating empathy with those who live with depression every day.

Interestingly enough, the word "Elude" originates from the Latin word "e-ludere" which means "away from" and is itself derived from the "ludo" with the meanings "to play" and "to trick."

Elude aims to raise awareness for depression and to inform about this dangerous illness. It is specifically intended to be used in a clinical context as part of a psycho-education package to enhance friends' and relatives' understanding of people suffering from depression about what their loved ones are going through.

Modeling what depression feels like by contrasting it with other mood states (normal and happy), Elude portrays depression metaphorically. The various parts of the game-world represent emotional landscapes that correspond to different moods with the gameplay changing according to mood changes. The core gameplay (i.e. "normal mood") happens in a forest filled with "passion" objects that resonate and act as power ups when one calls out to them. Only when infused with passion is it possible to overcome the obstacles on the way to the tree tops, where one reaches "happiness".

Mood is portrayed in several ways in Elude. The outset of the game takes place in a forest meant to represent a neutral mood. The goal in this state is to climb trees and “resonate” with different passions, represented by ideas and colorful birds. As your mood rises and you resonate more with your passions, you eventually make it to the treetops and are flying through the sky. Happiness is an entirely different gameplay experience that challenges players to keep soaring upward. Eventually, your mood drops, and you fall through the sky, and literally dragged down into the depths of the earth by your depression. You must make it through and fight your way back to the top to find where you true passions lie.


Elude is meant to raise depression awareness and teach parents, relatives, and friends of depression victims the real-life dangers of the disease.

The game is meant to show that depression is an uncontrollable carrying of moods, not just always being sad or unhappy with one’s life. There are neutral emotions that are accompanied by very short highs that end very quickly and, more commonly, deeply disturbing lows that are incredibly hard to get out of.

It is purely a game about depression awareness, and no real facts are given, other than quoting a few scholars that just ass to the mood of the game.


The game takes place in 3 separate areas, representing the three key emotions; a vibrant, leaf filled sky area where the character bounces happily petal to petal, a middle area that if full of cathartic-like statues and dead trees, which you must climb to get to the vibrant happiness area, and a dark, morbid underworld, that the player randomly gets dragged down to which is incredibly hard to climb out of.

The player is a very generic looking pale sad person, probably in their late teens or early twenties. When he speaks to the bird characters, he glows and slightly smiles.

The story of the game is variable, with highs and lows being determined by the player, though it is much easier to get dragged down to unhappy underworld then climb up to the happy over-world, though i believe this was the designers intent.

Game play

The game play takes from that of basically any other considerations, giving the player the ability to walk left or right and jump, except for the ability to emit a groaning helpless like noise. This groan has an area of effect that, when in the radius of one of the bird characters that sits in the trees, makes the birds turn from white to green and emit green particles. These particles, when close to the player, touch the player, cause him to glow, and add a significant height to the players jump.

The game play in the middle neutral section is all about staying away from the bottom of the stage and climbing up the limbs of the dead trees as fast as possible. This is to prevent being sucked down to the underworld and getting stuck down there for a prolonged period.

When in the upper happy section of the world, the player jumps higher and higher, bouncing on leaves trying not to descend and instead ascend as high as possible. However, leaves become scarce as the player gets higher and higher and thus, at some point, the player will have to drop back down to the neutral section, rather quickly.

If the player does not ascend the neutral area fast enough, he will get sucked down into the underworld area, where he moves incredibly slowly and is constantly sucked deeper and deeper down. Eventually, the player will encounter one of the helpful birds, which, with the groan and ump assistance, will allow the player to escape.

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