I’m working on a bigger piece about it, but I would say “clumsy execution” is an understatement.
R2 adds so many journal entries that paint surprisingly grounded stories of mental illness and suicidal ideation that you would think “oh, this is a game making a statement about mental illness.” Except it’s not.
The game pretty explicitly says “mental illness isn’t real, anywhere you see it it’s actually The Threat, a literal malevolent force from another plane of existence,” and then goes on to say that the way to combat it’s control over you mind is mindfulness, social support structures, avoiding media (the avenue by which The Threat bleeds onto our plane), oh, and of course rigorous firearms training. It decides to fictionalize and invalidate instead of genuinely engaging the topic, which feels really scummy.
I didn’t know about the cult culture inspired aspect of Receiver 1, which makes a lot of sense in retrospect, and honestly is still largely intact in R2. There could be an argument that since just about all of the journals / audiologs come from the receiver cult that the scummyness is intentional they could be a case of untrustworthy narration. Except that the game begins post-Mindkill, the predicted apocalypse they have been preparing for, just reinforcing that everything about The Threat and the non-existence of mental illness in this world is accurate.
It’s a huge bummer. They knew what the game was going to touch upon whether they wanted it to or not, but rather then take ownership and make a statement on those subjects, they just twist themselves to desperately lampshade and then not be about those topics, and really just wind up shooting themselves in the foot.