Pink Makes us Recall Unsettling Times Spent Locked Down and Alone

Pink harkens back to the worst times in lockdown during the early days of the pandemic. In it, a woman is trapped in her small studio apartment. Some unknown menace is occurring outside, leaving you with little to do besides wander through rooms and water the house plants. It’s a simple life, but even in this brief game, the monotony and loneliness chip at the sanity. You feel trapped, even if the main character doesn’t mind. While playing it, it’s hard not to think back on those bleak days spent filled with fear as you wondered whether you’d contracted the virus. Or, where you wondered if your mind was cracking from being all alone in your living space.

Our unnamed protagonist stands at the side of her bed when you start the game. You can guide her through the apartment and look at her things. She’s worked very hard to get her bookshelf looking just right. She’s meticulous about keeping the floor clean. She doesn’t watch tv much anymore. Most of all, though, she loves her plants. There’s plants in the living room. A plant sits on her bookshelf. There’s two in the bathroom. A little one sits on the fridge. There’s not much to do besides walk around and water these green little pals, so you can take a bit of time to get to know them.

Pink seems almost normal at first. You’re just a gal in her apartment with her plants. That changes when you try to walk out the door. “There’s no reason to leave,” she says. It’s an ominous thing to say when your whole life involves watering the plants, walking between two rooms, and then going to bed for the night. You wonder if the protagonist is just a shut-in, but the game slowly reveals more details about what’s going on. Her power’s gone out. Her food has all spoiled in the fridge. She used to keep up on the news about what was happening outside, but has been cut off from information without power. The news people were saying it was something about the rain, though.

Things grow steadily stranger. The protagonist mentions that she stopped needing to eat a while ago. She spends ages looking for her phone, only to remember that she threw it out the window a while back when its battery ran dry. Why doesn’t she need to eat? Why is her memory so fuzzy? All the while, her plants keep growing under her care. They move ever so slightly in the night. But are they actually moving? And why does she keep finding leaves in her hair? Or was one growing out of her ear? The normalcy of this place steadily crumbles with everything you look at in this apartment.

There’s little to do in Pink. All you can do is wander through your rooms and check on the same objects over and over again. Each time you check something, you’re hoping for some difference to keep you going. Something small is always changing, thankfully. Still, getting back into this mindset – one where you have nothing to do besides appreciate the tiniest of changes in your living space – was uncomfortable. It’s not a mental state I want to look back on. I remember days spent meandering the house. Thankfully, I still had power and internet at the time. Even so, having to just stay around the house all day every day during the pandemic felt like it was wearing on me. Even as someone who spends a lot of time alone, it was growing uncomfortable. When it wasn’t a choice, it felt like I was being suffocated by the walls.

It was a surreal time. I imagine it felt that way for a lot of people. Sitting around and waiting for new information was awful. Not being sure when you’d be able to go out again made things even more unsettling. I was lucky to have my partner and child with me to keep me company, but I was still feeling compressed. The house I loved to come home to was more like a prison when I couldn’t choose to leave. I was enduring it to stay safe (especially with an unknown and lethal illness floating around outside), but it no longer felt easy to spend time at home. It felt crushing simply to exist like this, never knowing when it would stop. IF it would stop.


Pink reminded me of the dreadful monotony of it all. Get up. Eat. Float around the house. Check the news. Eat again. Nap. Check dwindling finances since I was out of work. Wander some more. Eat. Sleep. It felt like an endless, hazy dream. You wander through your apartment in this game largely doing the same thing as you steadily learn more frightening things about what’s happening. Worse, you learn more upsetting things about your character and their life. Why don’t they eat any more? Are the plants moving? Why is so much information so fuzzy in her memory now?

I remember the steady, overwhelming panic and uncertainty. The sense that something menacing was at the door, and how that started to weigh on my sanity. How many days had it been? Weeks? How was I going to survive this long-term without work? If I found work, what additional risks was I putting on my family? A constant swirl of fear and anxiety as you march back and forth across the house, days slipping by in a blur. I felt like I was losing my place in time. Did I do a thing yesterday, or days ago? Just being in the house, unable to leave, was playing havoc with my mind.


I couldn’t help but wonder if the protagonist in Pink was enduring something similar, but much further along. She’d moved from worrying about work to being unsure if her plants were moving in the night. She’d stopped worrying about leaving and started feeling that she had rooted in her living space. In seeing her like this, the game dredged up the fears I felt about how long the lockdown was going to last during the pandemic. I continually worried about what it would be like to feel like this long-term. What would my mental state be like if I stayed trapped in the house? Would I start to see things? Would I forget that I was the one who moved things? How was I going to interpret the things I saw and did?

I wonder if the finale of Pink is real or not. Well, real within the context of the game world. Was it the aftermath of all that time spent alone? Is the protagonist simply suffering from the mental pressure of enduring her lockdown by herself? Had it broken her? I had many questions about the game’s ending, and those questions largely came from my own brief, limited exposure to that kind of loneliness that came from being locked in a place by yourself. It’s a fearful situation most of us have explored to various degrees, and that this game brought back many unwelcome feelings that I’d much rather leave behind.