Spec Ops: The Line - Yager Development, 2012
Germany has a tenuous history with video games. Despite being the most populous country in Europe and an economic powerhouse, they simply haven't developed many games. Board games, yes, but not video games. And much like their board games, German video games tend to fall into the niche (or Nietzsche?) of hardcore strategy--not very accessible to mainstream gamers.
Much of this is a product of the German government's constant censorship of violence in games. It doesn't help that a significant chunk of gaming is dedicated to killing Germans. In recent years, Frankfurt studio Crytek has emerged as the highest-profile developer in Germany, but their games Far Cry and Crysis are more notable for their technological advancement than their actual gameplay.
Then this year, rookie Berlin studio Yager Development released Spec Ops: The Line. The developer doesn't even have its own Wikipedia page. On the surface, Spec Ops looks like yet another generic military shooter game. But it proved to be a deeper experience than meets the eye: A conventional story about U.S. soldiers in Dubai turns into a Heart of Darkness-influenced critique of modern military gaming.
I've already dedicated a whole blog post to its storytelling. Despite poor sales, Yager's work has become a cult hit. It'll be interesting to see what comes next.
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