Truth and lies jostle in The Darkest Files demo

The video game industry’s obsessive interest in WW2 in Europe all but vanishes the moment Doenitz throws in the towel in May, 1945. Bringing to justice the architects of the war and hunting down the worst of their agents? Reconstructing a decimated and divided Germany? Sod that for a game of soldiers! Anyone who’s read about riveting subjects like the Nuremberg Trials, the Berlin Blockade, and Trizonia’s troubled gestation, will probably rue this blinkered view and appreciate Paintbucket Games’ unusual foray into WW2’s complicated aftermath.

Like Svoboda 1945: Liberation, The Darkest Files is a game about unpunished crimes and war’s toxic residue. In the demo you play Esther Katz, a young public prosecutor tackling her first case, the execution/murder of a 77 year-old near Munich in the final days of the war.

Why was Hans Naumann killed and who killed him? His widow, Ludmilla, and your boss, Fritz Bauer, want answers – answers you can provide if you research diligently, interview thoughtfully, and analyse carefully.

Paintbucket provide a splendid environment for Esther’s state-sponsored sleuthing. The same 3D engine that concretizes her workplace is used, along with 2D comicbook-style illustrations, to help you visualise witness testimonies.

Read this document, summon this witness… things are pretty mechanical at the start of the taster. It’s only when the witnesses start contradicting each other, and Esther breaks out a board game-like locus delicti tool with movable character counters that the game removes its kid gloves.

One comment

  1. That idea of linking witness testimony to original documents looks particularly pleasing to me.

    On a completely different tone, the WW2 Rebuilder is another recent exploration of post-war Europe that I was rather pleased to see crop up.

    I’m not sure I’m the right person to extract joy from its sweeping up bricks. This murder mystery (and perhaps courtroom drama?) sounds more up my alley.

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