Gamescom 2023 is just around the corner: major publishers are announcing equally major titles. The portfolio ranges from the Cyberpunk 2077 add-on “Phantom Liberty” to Forza Motorsport 8 and STALKER 2. However, probably the most important - or most valuable - video game title can be found in the indie corner. That's not all: the game comes directly from Germany. More precisely: from Berlin.
Paintbucket Games had already made a notable debut with Through the Darkest of Times. The Berlin studio won numerous awards for it. The creative minds claim that they make “games with impact”. Through the Darkest of Times, a strategy game about a civil resistance group in Nazi-era Berlin, showed how entertainment and a warning message can be combined in a video game.
Exposing Nazi crimes as a Nazi hunter
The new game “The Darkest Files” puts a finger in a wound that initially hurt shortly after the end of the Second World War and even decades later: the persecution of Nazi criminals and the sometimes clumsy attempts to hide the atrocities under the bloody carpet sweep. Game fans slip into the role of public prosecutor Esther Katz, who, as a member of a special unit set up by the Hessian Attorney General Fritz Bauer, has to solve real cases.
Game and historical facts seem to enter into an even deeper symbiosis in The Darkest Files than in Through the Darkest of Times. Last but not least, this is due to the character of Fritz Bauer. Important pillars of post-war legal history are associated with his name: the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann, the new commemorations of the resistance on July 20, 44 or the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, which began with 22 defendants, the largest criminal trial of the post-war period in Germany.
Fritz Bauer fought against all opposition to solve the Nazi crimes. As incredible as it may seem today, he was once a controversial figure in the post-war legal system. One looks back differently: On the 50th anniversary of Fritz Bauer's death, the lawyer was remembered in Frankfurt's Paulskirche. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Bauer one of the “key figures in the young democracy”. This year Bauer would celebrate his 120th birthday.
The Darkest Files lets young people in particular learn historical facts. You uncover real crimes in a playful way, are confronted with the horrors of history and can hold perpetrators accountable. For those playing the game, the journey into the past is reflected in the present: without Fritz Bauer's persistence, the modern German legal system might be different.
The process is interactive: The Darkest Files conveys historical facts, but remains a video game. After their investigation, players propose their own version of the truth, i.e. try to reconstruct a case. The final step is to bring the perpetrators to court, charge them and thus set an example against Nazi crimes and for a democratic legal system.
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