Life In The ‘War On Terror’: The Sun Also Rises

V. pleasant.

Wars are in video games for waging. Click click, bang bang. The stuff that isn’t steel–the squishy human bits of war–is seen less, though a few games are giving it a crack at the moment. This War of Mine will see civilians scavenging to survive while war they can’t control wages around them, while Sunset has a more sheltered but not detached view of everyday life during an escalating revolution. And now we’ve got The Sun Also Rises to look at, a “collection of vignettes” about the ongoing ‘War on Terror.’ Crumbs, and it is a looker too. Peep the trailer.

The Sun Also Rises is based on, no, not the Hemingway novel, but “personal accounts” of US soldiers engaged with the ongoing War on Terror (a name that still makes me cringe). It’s a bit hazy at this point, but it seems we’ll be chatting and exploring in scenes around the globe, and look, look at these two official bullet points from the feature list:

  • Dialog engine that allows you to speak or stay silent, interrupt others or be cunning with your words, fundamentally altering your experience.
  • Asynchronous passive multiplayer, where the choices you make affect the gameplay options that another player will have.

Aren’t those great bullet points? I am keen to discover how all this works.

I was a mite concerned at first that Horse Volume say the game “explores the Global War on Terror” while only referring to accounts from the invading side, especially as it appears to be interested in civilian life within the warzone. But the Hemingway novel referenced looks at the “Lost Generation,” those whose lives were derailed or ended by World War I. Horse Volume are clear that they’re focused on what US soldiers saw and experienced, not creating a perfect balanced documentary.

Horse Volume are planning a Kickstarter. No word yet on when that, or the game, will come.

Ta to Indie Statik for spotting this one.


  1. Fitzmogwai says:

    I prefer referring to it as “The War Against Terror”.

    It makes a better acronym.

  2. Kollega says:

    You know… I may catch some flak for this opinion, but I’m pretty sure that an average U.S. soldier or an average civilian from the West isn’t any more interested in fighting the War on Terror than the citizens of the countries that got invaded in its course. It’s not really the popular kind of war. Really, the only people who are happy with it are generally the kind of people we would despise anyway, war or not, so while a game based on accounts by U.S. soldiers may not be perfectly objective, I’m sure it won’t exactly be “RAH-RAH GOD BLESS ‘MURICUH” propaganda either.

    • rpsKman says:

      I’m pretty sure that soldiers who get pay, a pension and several benefits are not considering leaving the army to find a morally commendable job. As for the citizens, they believe in democracy and keep on voting for rich people who fuel the war machine economy with the rights and the living conditions of the poor.

      It’s easy to say you’ve made mistakes and it’s terrible once you’ve benefited from it all. Those whose city is crumbling around them have nothing to say, if they’re even alive.

      • Twitchity says:

        But when the thoughtful warriors leave the service, just consider who is left to fight our wars — for wars there will be.

        I chatted a few weeks ago with a Marine commander who is good friends with Greg Newbold, the high-flying Marine LTGEN who resigned in 2002 rather than be involved in the invasion of Iraq. Newbold had already come up against Rumsfeld and Cheney’s cabal, and rather than compromise his integrity, chose to forego a career that undoubtedly would have ended at least as a service chief on the JCS, if not as CJCS. Unfortunately, that also meant that one of the most thoughtful and genuinely moral warfighters of his class was no longer able to directly influence (and moderate) the American use of violence.

        I’m not going to argue that soldiers and marines are not culpable of the violence they inflict, but I would argue that they are, in fact, less culpable than the politicians that send them there and the voters who demand to see blood shed abroad. While humanity will no doubt never grow beyond violence and brutality, we can always hope that we can learn to make war a last bulwark against brutality, not simply a catharsis for a disgruntled public.

        • joa says:

          Wars are always going to need to be fought; that’s just a part of human nature. Additionally these wars are going on ultimately to protect our interests and way of life. So to criticise soldiers seems pretty hypocritical especially since they are many times more brave and heroic than you are.

          • rpsKman says:

            They are heroes until they regret everything. Then the cycle stars anew.

          • wishinghand says:

            Some wars may protect our way of life, but the latest to US led wars did not.

            And while the soldiers are more brave and heroic than us, it’s not for fighting the war specifically. They’re more brave than us because they’re willing to be put at risk, even for something useless. They’re heroic because they’ll sacrifice themselves for their fellow soldiers. But on a scale writ large? Their bravery still counts, but their heroism- not so much.

  3. DavidProctor says:

    Unless the developers have explicitly said so, I wouldn’t assume that the title is a Hemingway reference. My understanding is that the book’s title is a biblical reference to Ecclesiastes 1: “[3] What profit has a man of all his labour under the sun? [4] One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the earth stays forever. [5] The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where he arose.” It’s referring to how the world doesn’t slow down or compensate for the problems of the characters. I could see the title of the game referring to this more easily than I could see it referring to a book about a bunch of people, only one of whom is actually a veteran if I recall correctly, going on vacation in a futile attempt to forget their problems.

    Either way, it’s a pretty good title for a game. I’ve often used Hemingway’s titles as examples of titles that video games would do well to emulate. This isn’t emulation so much as appropriation, but it’s a hell of a lot better than most of the other titles you see.

  4. altum videtur says:


  5. cpt_freakout says:

    “Horse Volume are clear that they’re focused on what US soldiers saw and experienced, not creating a perfect balanced documentary.”

    One of the problems with this kind of view is that in order to better understand the complexity of many of these conflicts we need less ‘balance’ and more voices on the side of those who are usually not heard*. In the context of Western gamers coming to this game, that would be the voices of Afghans, for example, because most of us have already been exposed in one way or another to the perspective of the contemporary US army not only at the institutional level but also at that of individual soldiers. I’m really glad that a game like this will exist, but the fact that it’s doing something different with its theme doesn’t mean it’s doing it a service… but hey, baby steps, I guess.

    *Take, for example, the ‘balanced’ view taken by Bioshock Infinite. Does anyone really expected anything other than ‘both sides are bad’ once it starts tackling the violence wrought by the revolution? By making a ‘balance’ it erased any and all complexity there might have been to the conflict, starting with the stark division into two camps that have no variety within them.

  6. steviebops says:

    The aesthetic is ok, I was expecting something prettier given the article.