Game 23: Iji
Here’s another freeware game that I love to death. Link to download in the name.
This game tackles pacifism vs violence in a way that I’ve never seen another game do. You can play through the entire game without directly killing anyone, but you can also do it blazing through as an unstoppable force. One of the biggest things it does right in my opinion is really addressing the question of whether pacifism or violence are viable solutions at all rather than pasting pacifism as “good” and violence as “evil.” It approaches the question in a way that feel very organic and makes it really thought provoking.
When you first play through the sci-fi setting you’ll probably start by killing aliens and your character, Iji, will start pointing out to the support character that she feels bad for doing so. In fact, the first few times you kill enemies Iji may say some lines such as “oh no!” or “I’m sorry.” But as the game progresses as you take the violent approach her cries will turn more aggressive truly reflecting how you pay the game. Hell, the cut scenes and dialogue all reflect the choices you made, and not just the kind where it asks you directly what you want to do. No two people will have the same experience playing this game. You may end up blazing through without Iji learning much of the aliens and their purpose, you may end up following the diaries of an alien soldier just wanting to get home to her girlfriend right to her corpse on the battlefield, you may end up sending Iji into a hysterical hallucination refusing to believe her sister is dead. This game has so much depth and does so many things well that I’m a bit upset it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
The only way it really falls flat, which I can understand why for gameplay purposes, is the full pacifism run. It is all handled very well until the end where, if you haven’t killed a single enemy, you get the most powerful weapon in the game right before the boss. It seems very incongruous, especially because you can still take down the final boss without using it and either way doesn’t affect the ending. But to be honest, that’s really the only complaint I have (except maybe some of the music getting a bit repetitive). Go play it. It’s free and short, but with tons of replayability. Have fun.