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Kickstarter and demo shine light on The Darkest Files

Kickstarter and demo shine light on The Darkest Files
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Historical investigation and courtroom game based on true Nazi crimes during the Second World War

In their first game as an indie developer, Paintbucket Games thrust players directly into World War II as underground resistance fighters opposing the Third Reich in Through the Darkest of Times. For an encore, the Berlin-based studio has wound the clock ahead a few years to let players investigate and prosecute Nazi criminals in the years following the war in their upcoming "spiritual successor" The Darkest Files, currently on Kickstarter. 

Inspired by the real-life work of Frankfurt Attorney General Fritz Bauer and his team of investigators, the game takes place in 1956, more than a decade after the war. Appallingly, Nazi officials still retain high-ranking positions throughout Germany, so Bauer "establishes a special unit of young, unencumbered public prosecutors to pursue and investigate Nazi crimes and to prosecute the perpetrators." Players control a West German lawyer named Esther Katz, who must reopen a variety of cold cases based on "true crimes during the Second World War" to search for clues, interrogate witnesses, and build legal arguments before proving them in court. 

Described as a "historical investigation and courtroom game" reminiscent of titles like Ace Attorney and Return of the Obra Dinn, The Darkest Files blends free-roaming, first-person 3D investigation with hand-drawn 2D graphic novel-styled dialogue and research screens. In between searching the environments first-hand, you'll scour documents such as police reports and official order transcripts for information, make use of your network of contacts to find persons of interest, confront uncooperative witnesses with testimony contradictions, and reconstruct crime details with the help of blueprints. When you believe you've established an airtight case, you will charge your suspects and then make your case before the court. For those who'd like a lesser challenge, the game will offer a choice of "Story Mode" or "Investigator Mode," or a combination of custom options for the best of both worlds. 

Adding another layer of intrigue to the legal ramifications of these cases is a "personal and political history" as well. Playing as a woman in a position of authority, you must also deal with "chauvinistic suspects who look down on you, jealous colleagues who question the validity of your career, and a mother who would rather see you married and pregnant in the kitchen cooking for a loving husband." Compounding matters is a critical press, some powerful enemies and a pervading public sentiment that the cases reopened by the "traitor" Bauer are best left closed. You'll need a steely resolve as well as a keen prosecutorial mind to succeed, but your commitment is unshaken, knowing that "the cases you investigate are too important to be left in the dark." 

The Darkest Files is already nearly complete and due out as early as August, but in order to add further polish the developers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise €10,000 by April 18th. Having already blown past that target in its first day, the project's success is already guaranteed, but increased funding will allow for new content and other stretch goals such as console releases. To sample an early portion of the game, a playable demo is available on Steam for Windows PC. 


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