How should society deal with people who have done terrible things, but who escape legal justice? It is a significant question and one which raises a good deal of debate. The makers of the aptly named game Kill The Bad Guy have a direct and brief answer, summed up in the title of their creation.
In the game Kill The Bad Guy we are presented with a series of cases where someone (the bad guy) has escaped legal justice in one form or another and it is our job to hunt down and kill him. That is the premise. However, the catch is that each murder must look like an accident. Each level of the game opens with us nearby to the titular bad guy. The camera looks down on the area with a bird’s eye view. As the bad guy wanders through the level it is our job to find and position items which will trap and, ultimately, kill the bad guy.
As an example, the bad guy might be walking by a crane and we cause a wrecking ball to swing down and crash into him. In another scenario we might cause a piano to fall on his head or a car to lose control and crush him. There are sixty levels in the game and they slowly grow more complex and calculating, becoming more puzzle-like.
I do not believe I have ever been as creeped out and put off by a video game as I was by Kill The Bad Guy. I’m no stranger to violence in video games, but typically the violence I’ve engaged in was either on a level playing field or in defence. In other cases there was a greater goal involved which necessitated murder or, in other cases, the player got to see the enemy perform evil acts and was therefore (possibly) justified in striking down the fiend. In Kill The Bad Guy none of these elements exist. All we know about the target is what we get in short briefing papers. There is no face-to-face combat, no princess to rescue, we are not acting in self-defence or in the defence of anyone we know. The goal set in Kill The Bad Guy is to murder faceless strangers in cold blood on the word of some abstract briefing papers. This bothers me.
To further add to the creepy factor, each level is not approached from a character’s point of view, but from a god-like perspective, overlooking the map. There is no personal danger, we are like mad scientists poking at a rat in a maze, seeing what will kill and what will merely frighten. The puzzles are abstract and cold, the settings stark black and white, giving the impression of a purely intellectual puzzle. That is until the bad guy is killed. Then red blood splatters across the screen and we hear his last, agonized scream. Then the scene is replayed from a different angle, showing us again and again the destruction of a life we have taken in cold, calculating blood.
I am divided on one aspect of this game. Having played it I am not sure if the cold, inhuman, disturbing imagery portrayed is there to discourage violence, to urge us to see how terrible murder is and to set aside thoughts of vengeance. Or is Kill The Bad Guy to be taken at face value, created to allow the player to take enjoyment in finding creative ways to passionlessly take the life of another (virtual) person? I find myself assuming the latter, based on the content and the art style presented and I find this most disturbing of all. I could bring myself to play only a handful levels and I shiver at the thought of the kind of mind required to make such a creation as this.
Again, I am not opposed to killing or violence in video games, if there is a purpose (Neverwinter Nights) or if it is a fair fight (Mortal Kombat) or if it is cartoonish in nature (Super Mario). But this sort of abstract, clean, calculated, danger-free taking of life in the name of vengeance leaves me feeling nothing but in need of a shower to wash away the experience.
Have an open source game you would like to see reviewed? E-mail me your suggestion at firstname.lastname@example.org