Remembering The Horrors Of War

HIGH We see the many faces of war through the characters’ stories.

LOW Searching through and replaying extensive dialogue trees can be tiring.

WTF Why can’t we ask more questions? They’re still there!

The year was 1942, and Czechoslovakia was occupied by Nazi Germany.

The tenebrous Reinhard Heydrich — one of the architects of the Final Solution — was its ruler, but his stay in Bohemian lands would bring him an end as morbid as his life.

On 27 May, he was assassinated by Czech and Slovak paratroopers, and Nazi revenge for the killing was brutal. The Czech villages of Lidice and Ležáky were razed, more than 1500 people were executed, and 3000 Jews were sent to concentration camps. This dark setting is the focus of Attentat 1942.

The game begins in Prague, 2001, when our character helps his grandmother pack some things, and curiosity is roused when she talks about the old radio she was listening to when the Gestapo broke into her home and arrested her husband on suspicion of involvement in Heydrich’s murder. The objective of the game is thus established — find out why the Gestapo arrested grandpa back then, and figure out what he had to do with Heydrich’s assassination.

Attentat 1942 is a point and click from 2017 where the player must interact with the characters and the environment to find clues and follow the narrative. The most interesting feature is that it alternates between the present (represented in FMV) and 1942, displayed in comic-book style interspersed with real historical footage.

Each of these scenarios fulfills distinct roles. In the present, the purpose is to obtain information through interviews we do with the several characters who knew grandpa. In the past, we experience the dramatic moments that these characters lived through during World War II, normally in the form of a short video or a minigame.

The interviews are of the utmost importance because they not only fill the gaps in grandpa’s story, but also help us to understand harrowing aspects of World War II. We talk with a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, a Romani who was persecuted, a member of a resistance group, and a potential Gestapo snitch. Each character shows a different perspective on our grandfather’s past, and it’s up to us to put the pieces together. The puzzle isn’t difficult, but by solving it, we find the value in knowing the life story of these characters.

Attentat uses real actors in the FMV and this choice is deliberate — using real people helps ensure the seriousness of the subjects portrayed, which was appreciated. On the other hand, while conversations are rich, they are a bit extensive, which can lead to a certain fatigue.

To break the monotony of constant dialogue and extensive reading are simple minigames. We decipher an encrypted diary, make an escape route for a prisoner, or play cards. In these activities we can win coins that we can spend to replay interviews for information that we missed.

If it’s not clear by now, Attentat 1942 is an educational game, with the goal of raising awareness about the horrors of World War II. It’s based on historical research and testimonies, with initial development by Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences. It almost works more like an interactive documentary than a conventional game, and in this sense, Attentat 1942 offers resources that can easily replace a book or a passive documentary. The biggest example is the in-game encyclopedia full of relevant and scientifically-correct information which we can access at any time, and whenever we make a new discovery, we get a new entry.

As an educational resource, Attentat 1942 is excellent. However, when we interview the characters, there’s only one way through the myriad branches of the dialogue trees to get the right information. If we ask the wrong questions, there’s no turning back and we lose the clues, and we can only repeat the interview earn minigame coins. For an educational title, this potential failure is counter-productive, and if these were real interviews, there would be no reason to not ask the other questions.

In total, Attentat 1942 presents itself as an educational project, but there seems to be a bit of indecision about who the target audience is. Is it history-loving players who are already familiar with the point and click genre? Or, new players who might inadvertently end up learning about serious subjects while seeking a traditional title?

While Attentat 1942 lacks the entertainment factor that might entice players who aren’t specifically looking for a documentary-style experience, Charles Games delivers a title that is certainly of value on many levels.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Charles Games. It is currently available on PC/Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Blood, Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco. This game was generally non-graphic although the content was very heavy, and did imply or refer to rape, gun violence, promiscuity, and directly discussed genocide during and after the Holocaust.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered and/or resized. The game can be played successfully without audio, as there are no relevant sound cues. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. This is is a point-and-click game, controlled by mouse only.

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