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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 cuddly toy. These creatures can't defend themselves, they cannot run away... insanity is their only way of escape."

Thus we are introduced to Die Anstalt: Psychiatrie für misshandelte Kuscheltiere (The Institute: Psychiatry for Mishandled Cuddly Toys), a Flash-based game made in Germany (though available in English) where the player takes the role of a psychotherapist, filling in for Dr. Kindermann, famed psychologist to plush toys, while he's out of town. Yeah, you read that right. As if a psychology sim wasn't odd enough, this game is made even more odd by the fact that the player's patients are neurotic stuffed animals. Your patients are:

  • Lilo: A hippopotamus with a zipped-up mouth that it refuses to open, and symptoms of autism.
  • Kroko: A crocodile found abandoned in an alleyway, suffering from aquaphobia and symptoms of paranoia.
  • Dolly: A sheep from a kindergarten who appears to suffer from MPD.
  • Sly: A schizophrenic snake obsessed with spirals and his own broken rattle.
  • Dub: A turtle obsessed with exercise and time.
  • Dr. Wood: A crow who's one of the first plushie psychologists in the world, but who also has his own inner demons to face.
Your patients require your one-to-one counseling, with a variety of treatments available, from the famous Rorschach test, to dream analysis (accompanied by vivid and surreal displays of what your patient is dreaming about), to therapeutic interviews delivered, humorously enough, via a sock puppet. Each patient has their own reactions to the various tests and therapies, and their own colorful background story that becomes unveiled through the therapy session. If you need help, there's notes on the patient by "Dr. Kindermann" available for your perusal. The website also features a guest book and message board (both mainly in German, however).

So if you think you've got what it takes to get an autistic hippo out of his shell or delve into the often disturbing dreams of a paranoid stuffed crocodile, then check out Die Anstalt at http://www.parapluesch.de/

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