Powerful: The Protagonist Of This Shooter Will Say ‘This Is Bad’ Every Time He Kills An Unnamed Foreigner
People who say that games can’t be art better tie their hats down with a hatstring, because upcoming shooter What If War Is Bad is going to blow them clean off when it asks a powerful question– what if war is bad?
In What If War Is Bad, you’ll play as Gruff Irons, a man who is described as being both ‘gruff’ and ‘kind of hard’, but who will change as the game goes on. “We wanted to show a man with a hard edge, but who realises, ultimately, that war is bad”, says Mince Simmons, the game’s creative director.
“In the opening level, Gruff is shown as a child holding onto a red balloon. You hold the balloon by holding down the right trigger, and the level will only end when you let it go”, Simmons told us. “You can hold that balloon forever, if you want, and the game will never start. We wanted the player to have that choice, so that when they let the balloon go and the killing immediately begins, they know it is their own fault for letting go of their innocence”.
The rest of the game will focus on killing unnamed foreigners in an unspecified middle eastern nation. “We want the violence to be visceral and intense”, Simmons told us. “4K, lovingly rendered, with enemies’ individual bone structures mapped out, so that it’s all the more realistic – and thus bad – when Gruff brutally murders them.”
“At the beginning of the second mission, Gruff rips the jaw out of the first man he encounters and immediately slashes another man’s throat with it,” he continued. “But what makes our game different is that each time Gruff kills a man, he mutters ‘this is bad’, or sometimes ‘it’s bad that I did that’. This is what separates our graphic brutality simulator from all the others out there. It’s a game that will make you think.”
Later in the same level, Gruff rips a child in half and eats his heart in front of their screaming parents. We asked Simmons if it was difficult to make the line “this is bad” audible when Gruff is literally eating his victims. “It was a challenge, but our voice actor, Griff Myron, is a professional”, he said. “Each recording of ‘this is bad’, or some of the other lines, like, ‘this is disappointing’ or ‘war is not so good, in my opinion’, is unique. It’s not just the same recording repeated. You wouldn’t get this kind of replayability in other titles.”
Simmons showed us a later sequence in which Gruff blows up an orphanage that he suspects a terrorist might be hiding out in. As he sifts through the shattered corpses smeared between the rubble, Gruff mutters “this is bad” over each identifiable body. “Of course, what’s really bad about this situation is that there was no terrorist in the building”, Simmons tells us. “You have to keep blowing up orphanages until you find the right one. And every time, Gruff will think that it’s bad.”
The presentation finished with a protracted torture scene, and we had to ask Simmons – why did Gruff only say “this is bad” right at the end after he turned up the voltage on the car battery and the man’s body exploded into flame, and not during any of the twelve preceding steps? “Well, we didn’t set out to make a political game”, Simmons assured us, wide-eyed and sweaty.