Everything is Going to Be OK is about the circus performance of being all right

A bean-shaped rabbit is impaled on some sort of prehensile spike, but it's fine. "That was surprisingly survivable!" the rabbit shouts, before making a randomly-generated, completely inexplicable motivational poster to help you be inspired by their life experience.

Everything is Going to Be OK by Natalie "Alienmelon" Lawhead is a circus. It's brightly colored and clanking and shrieking and laughing and ridiculous and grotesque—it promises the sort of fun that comes with a tinge of nausea. Rabbits are impaled and then burst into flames, which is interspersed with glitched-out stock footage of hams being sliced in half. It's broken into multiple pages, each of them a story or minigame about bizarre animals trying to live their lives in a lurid dreamscape.

Everything is Going to Be OK is performing for you, and invites you to perform along with it. The inexplicably cheerful rabbit bounces from spike to spike, impaled on each one with a cheer as the counter ticks up. You're invited by a friendly bot to answer a series of baffling multiple-choice questions in order to teach it how to convince everyone that it, too, is a person. A lumpy pancake creature commissions a portrait from you, and not only can you save the drawing, but also automatically mock your client on your actual Twitter account if you like.

As you become part of the performance, Everything is Going to Be OK switches roles on you. Now it's watching you, and commenting on your performance. You control the pitch of the frogmonkey's shrieks, while a pair of rabbits praise your musical composition and offer unsolicited advice on how you can monetize it. You try to befriend strangers, and they burst into flames while rejecting you. A nameless streamer offers incessant, inane commentary: "Wow, this game is messed up! Is the creator on drugs?" 

Everything is Going to Be OK uses your involvement in this performance to draw you in further, to understand the need to perform. Halfway through its pages the rabbit is still impaled on a spike, and quite distressed about it. It hurts, and why isn't anyone helping? All of the uplifting slogans from earlier now seem like well-meaning nonsense at best, or callous, useless intrusions at worst. All you can do is offer reassurance as the rabbit slides further down the spike, further into a funk. What was initially alluring zaniness is now desperation. It's desperate to be loved, so you will stay and reassure it, so that anyone will care about it at all despite all this pain.

This neediness, this hurt, however, isn't hopelessness. Everything is Going to Be OK doesn't share its pain in the hopes of earning your pity or convincing to feel as overwhelmed as its characters. Rather than than the easy, uplifting answers it teases early on, it aims to show the much simpler triumph of existing despite the pain. Even though you're a giant sobbing head with a cynical tongue-worm speaking for you, you keep on going until you can't.

Everything is Going to Be OK brings you into its center, into its lived experience. It invites you to play along, to understand why it plays and why it is played, to understand and live with its pain for a while. At its strongest, it shows the quiet dignity of simply coping with pain, underneath the performance of being a survivor. Everything is Going to Be OK wants to be seen and wants to get away from the burden of being seen, and helps you understand how it's possible to feel both of those things at once. It doesn't promise solutions or cures—instead, it shows how the insistence that there must be some sort of solution or cure or right thing to do can be a painful intrusion. Everything isn't going to be OK, and that's OK.

Everything is Going to Be OK is available on itch.io, where you can name your own price.