Taiwanese horror game Devotion is finally available to buy again, two years after it was pulled from sale within days of launch in 2019. It had caused controversy and serious consequences with a small joke at the expense of Chinese president Xi Jinping. Games store GOG announced plans to re-release it last year, then backed out near-instantly supposedly due to popular demand. Now, to hell with it, developers Red Candle Games are just selling Devotion themselves. I've heard it's good, so I'm glad I'll finally be able to see for myself.
Devotion is a first-person spooker set within the confines of a Taiwanese apartment building during the 1980s. Spooky things are afoot, and they are good. Our Devotion review said: "Devotion thrives on subtleties and, aside from a few twitchy apparitions that jump at you, cheap scares are few and far between; it would rather get under the player's skin by cultivating a quietly disconcerting ambience."
But I never got to see that to myself because of the controversy caused by a scrap of paper in that apartment. It likened Chinese president Xi Jinping to Winnie The Pooh, which is a big no-no in China. The game was review-bombed on Steam and pulled from sale while the devs worked to remove that. They apologised, saying one member of the team had added the paper and no one else noticed. The game never returned to Steam. Beyond a limited physical edition available only in Taiwan for one week in 2020, it hasn't been on sale since February 2019.
DRM-free store GOG announced in December 2020 that they planned to release Devotion. Mere hours later, they said actually, no, they wouldn't. "After receiving many messages from gamers, we have decided not to list the game in our store," they said. Myself, I'd only seen people excited to play a game which had been lost to censorship. For a company who present themselves as righteous defenders of video games and freedom, it sure did look like they chickened out due to fear of reprisals, whether that be from customers or governments.
The Chinese government revoked the business license of Devotion's publisher over that one issue. And as Khee Hoon Chan (who wrote our review) reported, the whole region felt aftershocks.
Rather than continue suffering the whims of stores and publishers, Red Candle Games have finally launched their own online store. You can buy a DRM-free download of Devotion for Windows and Mac right now for $17. They're selling the soundtrack too.
The store also sells Red Candle's first game, Detention. That horror game has remained on stores all along but hey, I'd rather they got a larger share of sales. Game's a good'un. It recently spawned a Netflix series too, on top of already becoming a movie.
Red Candle are currently working on a mysterious new game. I look forward to buying that from their own store.