Now On Kickstarter: Fritz Is A Narrative, Relationship-Driven War Game Where Every Choice Matters
Video games have this troubling tendency to glorify violence - war in particular. Although I enjoy a nice, destructive romp as much as the next guy, I can't deny that it's stymying the growth of the medium to some degree. Shooters, in particular, are notorious for their bravado regarding matters of war; the number of games that actually take a mature approach and deal with the ramifications of conflict (rather than offering a reward for killing eighty odd soldiers) are few in number.
They're out there, though. Titles like Valiant Hearts and Spec Ops: The Line have been taking a more mature approach to the world of war, and it shows. More and more, people are starting to question the merits of violent video games - and are starting to seek alternatives.
Fritz is the latest title to tap into this trend. Set in World War One - by all accounts a relatively untapped era in gaming - Fritz stars a German soldier of the same name, who's been conscripted to fight on the Western front. Rather than centering around gunfights and trench warfare, the focus of the game is on Fritz's relationship with his fellow soldiers. Gameplay is thus primarily comprised of relatively mundane, every-day activities: guard duty, securing food and drink, and discussions with Fritz's allies.
That isn't to say there isn't any combat at all. According to the developer, attacks do happen infrequently, and they're both "challenging and deadly" when they do. It's in combat that the consequences of all Fritz's choices really strike home - characters he's formed a close relationship with will work better by his side, and be likelier to survive a firefight. Fritz's personal health will impact how effective a combatant he is, as well; if he's hungry or ill, he'll have a great deal more difficulty making it through a battle in one piece.
Each playthrough of Fritz will last between four to six in-game weeks - chosen to reflect the amount of time a German soldier was expected to remain on the front before being sent back into reserves. At the end of this period, there are a number of different endings the player might see, all of which are completely dependent on how they play the game(the developer plans for there to be at least twenty-one of them). After sitting through the credits, players can choose to either start a new game or carry over stats from their previous playthrough, with the game getting progressively more difficult each time.
The game will be playable on either Windows or Linux, and will feature ten major NPCs, each one with its own fully fleshed-out story and complex set of interactions with Fritz. Players will encounter three of these NPCS per playthrough. In addition, there will be twenty-five minor NPCs, with ten encountered in each of the game's playthroughs.
The developers are going out of their way to keep things historically accurate. Not only have they put in countless hours of research, they're also talking to people who have experienced PTSD (so as to portray the experience of wartime trauma in a thoughtful, respectful fashion). Although there will be some surreal elements, these will exist chiefly to drive home the absurdity of war.
With all the games that seem dead-set on glorifying war, it's incredibly refreshing to see a game with a more reasoned outlook. Fritz's character-driven, humanized approach is like a breath of fresh air. The medium could certainly use more games like it.
Fritz is currently live on Kickstarter. You can donate to the campaign here.