Someone’s about to kill you. What do you say to make them change their mind?
There’s not a whole lot going on in free game Iron Sunset, but what’s there is fascinating. Initially, the setup is simple: as part of a military outfit (that’s apparently severely underfunded), you have only a single bullet to use on a traitor. Problem: there are three Nazi animal people (?), and you don’t know who did the deed. So, as you stand there aiming down the sights, your blindfolded ex-WarPals plead for their lives—some desperate, others contemplative, others completely bananas (“I AM THE LORD JESUS CHRIST”).
You have a bit less than a minute to pull the trigger before you, yourself, are branded a traitor. On my first go, I waited 20 seconds or so, and then a worm man bellowed, “Go on and a kill me. Do it!” followed by, “JUST DO IT,” so I put one between his eyes because I don’t like Shia LaBeouf.
What happened next is what makes the game truly interesting. [SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ONWARD.]
The game told me that I’d landed my own ass in similarly hot water, and it was time for me to beg for my life. I could type in anything I wanted. And that’s when I realized: every line I’d seen before was player-generated. Each character tied to a post was one player’s collection of frantic cries. After I wrote down my three, the game told me it’d send me an email after “I” had been killed. Here’s what that email ended up looking like:
I don’t know what the Secular God is. Mankind? Socialism? Santa? Oh well.
Still though, pretty cool, right? I got to find out how many times people didn’t shoot my dude and—when they finally did—how long it took. I wonder why they passed him over. Maybe they felt bad after my guy apologized profusely and began quietly sobbing.
I’ve since played a couple more times, and I’ve made Some Discoveries. For example, try shooting the monkey. Also, I’ve seen some truly inspired pleas, ones that attempt to craft little stories that actually resonate. On one occasion a deer person said to me, “The monkey’s lost it! He thinks one of us killed his son. The truth is, a stray shell did it.” It was a crime without a criminal; the monkey unhinged by grief, the others hapless victims. I aimed at the monkey and pulled the trigger, but I didn’t feel great about it.