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"In a soulless world...its inhabitants spineless. Spoiled by a consumerist culture, and yet...lonely. This gives birth to frustration...and makes one even lonelier. The last friend remaining is...the cuddlytoy. These creatures can't defend themselves. They cannot run away. Insanity...is their only way of escape."
Die Anstalt - Psychiatrie fur misshandelte Kuscheltiere ("The Asylum - Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddlytoys") is a German point-and-click game made in 2003. The player takes on the role of a psychiatrist treating plush toys which have been driven insane due to abuse by their owners. Gameplay consists of selecting a patient to treat and then selecting different treatments from a list on a clipboard. Choosing the right treatments at the right time is essential to win, although there are several that won't do any harm or help.
The game started with only three patients, but has since expanded to six. The current list is as follows (in order of creation):
Kroko: A paranoid crocodile with severe aquaphobia.
Lilo: A hippo with symptoms resembling autism. He never speaks, and spends all his time trying to solve a wooden puzzle.
Dolly: A chronically depressed sheep who sometimes believes herself to be a wolf.
Sly: A rattlesnake with severe ADD and delusions, who sometimes holds extended conversations with his rattle. Added in 2007.
Dub: A hyperactive turtle who spends all his time jumping rope, stopping only to reset his stopwatch. Added in 2009.
Dr. Wood: A raven who's a renowned psychiatric doctor and always carries around a notepad and pencil. Unlike the other patients, you actually start out as trying to converse with him on a professional level until it becomes clear that he has deep-seated psychological issues himself. Started in 2010, added completely in 2011.
You can find the game here.
This game uses the following tropes:
- Bedlam House: Averted. The hospital is modern, clean, and fully dedicated to helping patients.
- Bilingual Bonus: Sometimes, when the motivational tape has been damaged or the characters are hallucinating, you can see the English text translated into possibly Korean, possibly Thai, and Russian.
- Break the Cutie: The patients' backstories...and you, if you decide to be a jerk and torture them.
- Combined with Break the Haughty for Dr Wood.
- Character Blog / Alter Ego Acting: The game's Facebook page and other peripherary sites. In a recent survey, they even insisted that stuffed animals were not allowed to take part.
- Chekhov's Gun: After Dr Wood's first foray into astral projection, you can see him trapped in a glass box way above the forest as he makes his way back - something that will turn out to have caused his insecurities and narcissism in the first place.
- On a more general level, if there is something striking about the design of a character (for example, zips or a stomach pouch), you can bet it will come into play later in the therapy.
- Covers Always Spoil: a recent update to the graphics of the site spoils the existence of Dolly's inner wolf.
- Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Dr. Wood, being a psychiatrist himself, is all too happy to turn your treatment methods back on you. He's also somewhat trigger-happy about deciding you're insane and administering electroshock therapy.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Dolly's wolf form turns out to be nice.
- Dreaming the Truth: The "Dream Analysis" option.
- Drugs Are Bad: Improper use of the "Administration of Drugs" option. Also, Sly's problems stem from accidentally recieving a severe overdose of hallucinogens.
- Dysfunction Junction: A small group of mentally ill toys? Hmm.
- Epiphany Therapy: Partially averted. The final flashback plays a huge role in curing the patient, but actually getting there is most of what your job is.
- Fission Mailed: A red bar on the patient's progress meter usually means that you've messed up your patient even more and need to "reset" them with electroshock therapy. At one point you have to do it to break Dub out of a catatonic state and continue with his therapy.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: When Dr. Wood goes crazy and becomes a cult leader, he tries to hypnotize you, the player (or at least the player character) into joining his Claw Association.
- Freudian Excuse: Sort of the whole point. Averted with Sly, although the help does point out that from the Freudian Excuse position, his symptoms don't make a whole lot of sense.
- All Psychology Is Freudian: Subverted. While the excuses themselves are indeed Freudian, more of an emphasis is placed on psychodynamic and biological psychology. Indeed, the "certain lopsidedness" of Dr Wood towards Freudian methods is one of the obstacles you need to get past in his therapy.
- Guide Dang It: There is an in-game guide that usually indicates the best treatment for the current patient and situation. Using this guide is pretty much essential if you want to avoid accidentally doing damage to the patient. However, its hints are occasionally vague enough to leave players scratching their heads.
- Happy Place: Sly and Dolly experience this in their dream sequences...but it doesn't last.
- Hand Puppet: The "Therapeutic Interview" is given by a sock puppet, which Sly actually falls in love with.
- Humans Are Bastards: The driving force behind the patients' problems is abuse by their owners, although it's usually unintentional - Sly's owners are the only ones to do anything deliberately malicious to their toy, and even then hiding drugs in his tail for easy access probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Lilo is even reunited with his owner happily when he's cured.
- Killer Rabbit: Look at how adorable and small Dr Wood is. Then look at the YMMV page and all the Nightmare Fuel he's provoked. If you get on his bad side or think about his case too hard, Dr Wood can be freaking dangerous.
- Living Toys: Fluctating between 2, 3 and 4 on the Sliding Scale. Apparently, whether or not the humans in the game acknowledge them as sentient objects depends on the "host consciousness" and how well it projects to the cuddly toy, dictated in a sliding scale of its own. Rough translation of the concept here.
- Lonely At the Top: Implied in Dr. Wood's case. One of his dreams has him rise up to the stars after gaining the other patients' attention, only to find out that it's cold and lonely there.
- Or Was It a Dream?: It is usually easy to tell when the game switches from reality to dream sequence, due to appropriate transitions and circle borders. However, Dr Wood's cultish takeover of the asylum in the middle of his therapy blurs the line between the two planes by not showing these indicators.
- Merchandise-Driven: The game was made as an advertisement for a line of actual plush toys.
- Mushroom Samba: You see one when administering/administered drugs.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The e-cards you can send out at the reception desk include imagery that isn't seen while treating the patients.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Most of the artwork produced in Paint Therapy; kudos goes to Dolly for attempting to paint a peaceful meadow, only to flip out and gouge the canvas with her paintbrush.
- No Medication for Me: Mostly averted. For four out of six patients, you cannot successfully treat them without the "administration of drugs" option.
- Rage Against the Reflection: Dolly does this when the sock therapist shows her her reflection in a mirror at one point, smashing the mirror with her face.
- Reset Button: Electroshock therapy reverts patients back to the way they were when they started. The mandatory electroshock for Dub is an exception.
- Rule of Symbolism: Most of the dream sequences. For example, the silhouette of a faceless woman in Dub's dreams = CG Jung's metaphor for depression. Overlaps with Faux Symbolism when the symbols don't make much sense in the context of the story, like the yo-yos and the string tangled in the trees in Dolly's second dream.
- Scam Religion: After Dr Wood loses his grip on reality, he founds the Claw Association, and pretends to heal the other patients in exchange for their most precious items.
- Shout-Out: References include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Edward Hopper, and Henri Rousseau.
- Single-Issue Psychology: For each patient so far, their issues all them from one single traumatic event that the therapist (i.e. you) has to find out about to treat them.
- Swapped Roles: Do the wrong thing with Dr. Wood, and you end up on the bed yourself as Dr. Wood gives you a dose of electroshock therapy!
- Tender Tears: Dub, when his abandonment issues come to the surface. He uses up a whole box of tissues. Kroko sheds a tear as well when he's cured and reunited with his beloved hot-water bottle.
- The Ghost: Dr Kindermann. He leaves for a study in Japan prior to your arrival, and all communication with him after that consists of analysis from him in the aforementioned guide.
- Unwinnable By Mistake: Dolly was completely incurable when when she was first introduced.
- The Unintelligible: The sock-puppet therapist, Dub, and Lilo.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Will you do your job, helping the patients on the road to recovery...
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: ...or push their buttons until they're driven over the edge?
- Violent Glaswegian: While Dolly doesn't actually have the accent, an e-card strongly implies she comes from Scotland, and she has anger management problems.
- The Voiceless: Lilo, and it's not because his mouth is zipped shut.
- Waiting Puzzle: Near the end of Dub's therapy, when he starts crying and using up tissues, you have to wait until he uses up all the tissues before you can proceed; and even then, one foot wrong will set him off again.