As it stands, if you do not own Devotion you can not play it. The game, developed by the Taiwanese team Red Candle Games, is no longer on Steam. This may be hopefully temporary. But right now it's a game of mystery and controversy, a messy geopolitical situation that threatens to overshadow the brilliant video game.
Devotion The second game of Red Candle, is a quiet, sad horror play about a small family, a sick child and a cult. Set up in Taiwan in the 1980s, it is a minimal, focused experience, most of which takes place in a small apartment. As the game progresses, the room changes and shifts, opens and closes, fills with memories and horrors. Devotion gives the player the opportunity to discover a disturbing but emotionally realistic family story that spans one inch of living space.
However, it is also unlikely to be a game of international concern. An international political firestorm banned by Steam in China, it has been scrubbed by Red Candle Games in much of the social media and by the beginning of this week Steam internationally drawn for another pass in quality assurance, which may or may not be related to the political dimensions of the game.
The centerpiece of the controversy is a little talisman in the game (now removed and referred to by the developers as a wild card art), with textual reading, roughly translated, "Winnie the Pooh Xi's Jinping Moron" reference to a meme that comics the bear China's President Xi Jinping connects. The meme is considered illegal criticism of the president and is not allowed in China. References to the meme are removed from Weibo, the country's largest social media network, and Winnie the Pooh is banished from the country. The incorporation of memes by devotion itself as a throwaway placeholder prompted players in China to bombard the game again, eventually expanding to the point where it disappeared from Steam.
It's a conflict This is exacerbated by relations between Taiwan and China. The Chinese government considers Taiwan a renegade province, while the Taiwanese government and many of its citizens consider it a sovereign nation. Taiwan's independence is a hot-button issue in both places, and for a Taiwanese-based game published in Mainland China, even subtextual forms of advocacy may be subject to intense scrutiny. In the midst of the controversy, Red Candle Games' Chinese publishers have broken ties with the company, and discussion of the game is now banned on Weibo.
Is Devotion a political game? This question is not easy to answer. It's a game that deals with superstition, devotion to wrong causes, and destruction that can cause this dynamic. One can certainly see how these issues can be applied politically. And Detention, the developer's previous title, is highly political, a horror play that plays out during Taiwanese martial law in the 1
can no longer be seen twice as a brilliant piece of family horror as well as a history of backlash and political misunderstanding.
What Devotion attempts and succeeds in, uses its focus on limited space and a small group of characters to create fascination and discomfort. The way the game unfolds almost entirely in a single apartment is reminiscent of PT drawing the player into a mindset connected to his characters. As the family becomes involved in cult rituals at the center of the game, the player is also crossed through this small space at multiple times, solving puzzles with a kind of ritual zeal, as if he were adjusting things the way they should Players unlock a path to a more promising future. It's a game that triggers family trauma, the way homes are charged with dangers and tragedies baked into the past in the walls.
Could a home be a nation, and could the trauma be broader and more charged than a simple family drama? Of course. And Devotion is today even more than it would be otherwise, impossible to separate from this context, and it is impossible not to see it as a double, both as a brilliant piece of family horror and as a history of backlash and reaction political misunderstanding. Red Candle Games has denied that it had political intentions with the game, but it will always be there and lurking around the edges.
This is especially true if the game does not return to Steam. Now it is in danger of becoming a game more like PT than it first appears, a game rendered inaccessible by situations far beyond the scope of its existence as an interactive work of art.
for devotion deserves to be experienced. If it returns to a salable platform, I can absolutely recommend it. And if not, it is still a game worth reading and considered a victim of his circumstances. Like the family in the middle, Devotion is a precious thing that has fallen into a network of complex social forces. And as for the family, one can not hope for the freedom for Devotion .
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