Some games will test your intellectual prowess in a battle of wits, while some will challenge your mettle when it comes to might and magic. In Watch Me Stream My Mental Breakdown, you play as a lovable but unmotivated panda named Pochi in a game that checks to see if you have what it takes to become the ultimate streamer.
Now, it’s not very often that you can play a game about playing games—or rather, play a game about a streamer playing games. Battles consist of you warding off commenters on the Internet with either witty acts of pacification or rage-induced comebacks that feed the trolls, all under the guise of a quirky little card game. That alone—and the fact that you’re a streaming panda, for goodness’ sake—already makes for an incredibly unique title (plus, none of the humans around you seem to notice that you’re a big fluffy bear).
Ultaan Games describes it as a “story deck-builder about playing games all day and proving your father wrong”, and in a nutshell, the game is exactly that. You have such high hopes about the lives of the rich and famous that all you ever want to do in life is stream yourself playing video games until you get picked as a partner and rake in all the dough. Your farm folk parents—particularly your father—have other plans, because college isn’t cheap and they’re just so darn proud of their little boy in the city. But chasing your dreams and actually living in the real world are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, and you can’t just sit around all day and hope that life will magically turn out well for you.
Much like in real life, there is no magic formula to getting subscribers and followers.
This, ingeniously, is where the impressive resource management mechanic comes in. The game is excruciatingly difficult when it comes to managing IRL problems because adulting is a thing and the struggle is real. As each day goes by in your calendar, you can choose to sleep all day to recharge your “mental health” bar, go out and get a job (because money doesn’t grow on trees, except when your dearest mum sends you some allowance every once in a while), or stay in and stream because that’s really your ultimate goal.
But here’s where it gets tricky—working can earn you lots of money but will inevitably take a toll on your mental health and physical health. You can go on a streaming streak, but your mental health takes a hit each time you try to fend off trolls. You can replenish it by sleeping, but if you hit the sack early, how are you going to pay the rent when it’s due at the end of the month? If you do earn a few bucks from streaming (and gain followers and subscribers along the way), you still have to pay taxes when the month ends, because life sucks.
Picking one option over another will effectively use up a whole day, and each new day brings its own set of problems. There’s a bit of a randomized effect when it comes to daily events, as you might wake up with a migraine in the middle of the night and lose a mental health point, or a friend of yours might ask for help setting up a streaming channel of her own (you can also choose to either lend a hand or skip it altogether). While the natural progression for the story will still happen chronologically (with hilarious results, I promise you), what happens in between can depend on previous choices you make. There are multiple endings too, so you really have to go through different playthroughs to see how Pochi’s life will turn out (here’s a quick spoiler-free tip: ramen is not a diet).
While this part-point-and-click, part card-battler hybrid game is incredibly intriguing, I’m actually pretty torn. I do enjoy the resource management aspect of the painfully realistic game (being a streamer is hard; why do people even do it?), but sometimes, I just want to keep playing the card game because it’s very engaging in itself. Sadly, there’s no skip function to go through all the dialogue and events, because at the end of the day, I just want to play that card game.
Because it’s a great card game. The simplicity of the card game’s mechanics doesn’t take away any of its fun factors. You essentially pick your battles by picking the channel or genre you want to stream in. There are three skill attributes in every deck, namely, Shrewdness, Ego, and Knowledge. These cards have their own unique moves you can use, but you also have to pay attention to the genre of the game you’re streaming as well as the audience. For instance, playing an action game with teens as your audience will earn you major points when you keep using your Ego cards to bully trolls into a corner, but they may raise your Toxicity level and render your channel un-sponsor-able by ads.
Watch Me Stream My Mental Breakdown Review | Final Thoughts
Overall, Watch Me Stream My Mental Breakdown is unique, but I feel like there’s more untapped potential to it. Each playthrough gets a little easier because you keep the cards you earn at the end of each run. I kind of wish there was a story mode and a card game mode where you can just play cards all day instead of being forced to go through the whole calendar and every single dialogue scene over and over again.
It really depends on your gameplay, but the bottom line is this: much like in real life, there is no magic formula to getting subscribers and followers. All you really have to do is be yourself and hope for the best—and in this case, if being yourself is being a panda with a penchant for streaming, then, by all means, you do you.
Techraptor reviewed Watch Me Stream My Mental Breakdown on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Unique Concept
- Cute, Relaxing Art And Music
- Intriguing Card Game Mechanics
- Can’t Skip Dialogue
- No Mode For Just Playing Card Games
- Too Darn Realistic