'White Terror' era is back... in video game

Developers from Red Candle Games, the company behind the video game Detention, including co-founder Yao Shuen-ting (standing, second from right).
Developers from Red Candle Games, the company behind the video game Detention, including co-founder Yao Shuen-ting (standing, second from right).PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TAIPEI • As the 70th anniversary of a bloody political purge in Taiwan looms, a new horror video game set during the island's "White Terror" is winning rave reviews.

The game, Detention, was created by Taiwanese developers and takes place during the crackdown on political opponents by the ruling nationalist Kuomintang, when the island was still under martial law.

The nightmarish 2D game starts with the disappearance of a teacher. Players act as two high school students trying to solve the mystery.

One scene in the game shows a classmate hanging dead in the school auditorium. Another depicts one of the students consoling her sobbing mother before entering a room with portraits bleeding from their eyes.

Gamers have praised Detention as an "emotional and educational" experience. It made the top 10 on popular game distribution platform Steam after its release last month and is still on the bestseller list.

Developer Yao Shuen-ting said that his team tried to capture the pervasive fear during a time when family members and colleagues were going missing.

"We want to let players experience the atmosphere through the characters' perspective... to come to the conclusion themselves that this was a time when you could die from reading a book," said Mr Yao.

Victims of the "White Terror" were often teachers and doctors angry with government corruption, who turned to underground organisations that created and distributed reading materials seen as subversive.

The game's developers said they spoke with their own elderly relatives to help recreate the era, learning about details such as the outfits school officials would have worn.

Mr Yao described the game as almost like a film, as players delve into the main characters' inner minds and eventually discover disturbing truths.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2017, with the headline ''White Terror' era is back... in video game'. Print Edition | Subscribe