You can keep your Spec Ops: The Lines and Far Cry 2s. When I want ruminations on the futility of violence and war, I turn to Cannon Fodder. Sensible Software’s top-down tactics game was full of silly songs and cute sprites, but every time you returned to its menu screen you’d see white crosses representing your lost soldiers spreading across the hillside beyond your recruitment centre.
Here’s the description from the pitch page:
Fritz is a narrative RPG with brutal real-time combat about life in the trenches of the First World War. You play as Fritz, a German soldier on the Western Front. Most of the gameplay is comprised of everyday activities like guard duty, getting food, and talking to your fellow soldiers. Attacks are sparse, but deadly and challenging.
The main aspect of the game is character development, both of Fritz and of his comrades. Each of them is shaped by interaction with others and the things they’re going through. Your comrades can die practically randomly during attacks, but the longer they survive, and they closer they get to Fritz, the better their chances of survival as everyone helps each other.
And here’s the Kickstarter pitch video, which shows some of the game in action.
There’s perhaps no harder task in game design than creating a war game that meaningfully comments on its subject matter while also fulfilling its game-y obligations. Can Fritz marry its storytelling RPG half to its battles? The “War and Peace” conversation in the above video seems heavy-handed, but I like the idea of your goal not being to win fights, and instead simply about fighting enough to survive and not be shot for cowardice.
Truceful Entertainment are looking for $15,000 to make the project a reality, and just a couple of days into the project have raised $2,590. $5 nets you a copy of the game upon release, but even if you don’t back you can follow development over at their TIGSource devlog.