God save Ringo and his Robot Army
Britain, Britain, Britain! Over the years we’ve been known for a lot: tea, monocles, the Queen, imperialism, and at one point… video games. We had it all, from the Sinclair ZX Spectrum to Rockstar Games, Britain used to rule over the medium with her wrinkled fist.
But in the words of the great Professor Elemental, “and sure enough, we rhubarb crumbled”. There’s been an influx of something so unspeakable, so terribly horrific my stiff upper lip trembles just at the thought of it: American games. Even our former glory Rockstar now pumps out America-simulator Grand Theft Auto and Old-America-simulators L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption.
Even South African developers are getting in on the act now, with Broforce being developed by Free Lives. It’s like our heart and soul has been torn out and given to people who might actually know how to make games regardless of nationality… but that is besides the bloody point.
Obviously British games are better than others, just for the fact they’re British and there needs to be no other reason. So here we are, my friends, with a rundown of the top five most British games ever (that may or may not actually be developed in Britain). Hopefully for those not part of our glorious country, it will give you an inside look at how are culture really ticks.
Bloodborne was a sign of great change over at From Software. After its run of massively popular Souls games, it wanted to try something really different. It wanted to move away from the formula that made From the huge success it was, and show the world the average, day-to-day lives of people living in Birmingham.
Audiences were cautious of the idea at first: bringing the Midlands to life seemed like an odd choice for a Japanese developer to tackle. Over the course of the development process, we learned just how seriously Miyazaki was taking the project: he’d binge-watched every episode of Crossroads, a task no human being should be able to survive.
But it all paid off: when it finally launched, everyone instantly understood how important the game would be. From the Werewolves of Snow Hill Station to the Dog Vicar of the Bullring, Brum really does come to life in videogame form. Treading over the broken cobbles and forcing my way through the rusted gates, it was just like I was there.
Some players complained about the difficulty of the game, but frankly if you haven’t been devoured by a giant spider when going to Birmingham’s Selfridges, you’ve not truly experienced the city.
#4: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Shropshire was an absolutely inspired choice of a location for The Chinese Room’s newest storytelling game Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.
The county is very rarely a setting in games, and it has a rich history thanks to its influence and contribution to the industrial revolution. Shropshire is everything you could think about Britain neatly compressed into a nice, little place full. But that’s not the true reason why it’s such a great setting for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.
The real reason is it’s the closest thing to a post-apocalypse you’ll find in the Western hemisphere! That’s right, after the AI incursion at Ironbridge in 1886, nobody has lived there! Every single human being you see in Shropshire is just a steam-powered Stepford-esque bio-machinations, who have left the county to go to ruin! Pubs and charity shops have combined into one weird amalgamation that’s not quite as good as either, and you can bet your entire family a new museum is popping up as you read this.
Shropshire is an utterly bizarre, yet pretty, place. For the lens to be focused so intently on it in Rapture means we may soon finally find a way to reclaim our land from the androids.
#3: Killing Floor
Killing Floor might be a slightly controversial inclusion on this list, because it doesn’t paint our glorious isles in quite the best light.
However, I think something us Brits have always been good at is introspection. From a National Trust café to a beach in Benidorm, we always act with the utmost class and decorum, but Killing Floor shows a darker side to our nation: British football.
Killing Floor is about a world overrun by, and I quote, “bloody Millwall fans”. Set in the streets of London, you must survive against the hordes of football fans being kicked out of the pub. Killing Floor’s recreation of modern day football is so realistic, the attention to detail is simply amazing. I can smell the cheese and onion Walkers crisps and stale beer just thinking about it.
In a positive light though, Killing Floor manages to be incredibly inclusive of its image of football fans. The world likes to paint the sport as a load of rowdy old geezers who can’t keep their drinks down in their moth-eaten Aston Villa t-shirts, but it simply isn’t like that in 2015.
Men with chainsaws for arms and invisible women have become way more accepted in recent years! Even Spider-hybrids have found their place! Unfortunately, scary fire-shooting people have still been fighting for their place for a while now… but there’s certainly progress.
Also, we have a lot of guns. That is some Britain is absolutely known for: how many great big, piss-off guns we all carry around at all times. Sometimes it’s a hassle trying to carry my shopping from Morrison’s with an AK-47 in the way, but that’s Britain for you.
Killing Floor’s unblinking view of how many fully-automatic shotguns and flamethrowers even your common Londoner has is something we need to really understand about our culture. Thanks, Tripwire.
#2: The Beatles: Rock Band
It was twenty years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. They’ve been going in and out of style, but none the less they’ve been marching through the streets of Liverpool, ensuring all of Britain’s children are behaving as they should. If they are not learning the songs of their grandparents, or worshiping the great Lucy in the Sky with their Diamonds, Pepper’s mighty Walrus will take them away to a place nobody knows.
This is how it has been for the past fifty years, and it is the way it shall always be. Of course, there have been attempts to destroy the great influence our Lord and Master Ringo Starr has had on us. The Oasis Movement of the ’90s was the biggest threat, but problems among management meant it stood no chance against the Lonely Hearts Club Band.
And this is why The Beatles: Rock Band is on our list. No one changed the face of Britain as much as Lord Starr did, and the great idea of incorporating the children’s mandatory daily reverence into a video game meant for those wealthy enough to afford the little plastic instruments, life is good.
Well not good, but it’s getting better.
#1: Sir, You Are Being Hunted
You thought Everybody’s Gone to Rapture was our only way of fighting back against the robots? Oh heavens no, we also have Sir, You Are Being Hunted.
Not only does Sir helpfully remind the British public to respect the god damn class institution that has been in place for centuries, it also provides handy-dandy training on how to survive should you find yourself in somewhere like Shropshire!
Sir is a program to help remind those crawling in the shattered darkness that Britain still exists: with tweed shops, and union jacks plopped onto absolutely every item inconceivable. Digestive biscuits, far too many churches, parish halls, smokestacks, tea, tea, tea. If this doesn’t remind you of home, I don’t know what will.
There’s even fox hunting! You remember fox hunting, right? That thing only rich people do because getting away with shooting poor people would be more hassle than it’s worth? Of course, in this case you’re the fox… but never mind that, developer Big Robot is still working out the kinks.
Sir, You Are Being Hunted is more than a game. It’s our message unto the world that no matter what they do to us, we will survive. A nice strawberry trifle here, an 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown there, and we will all keep calm and carry on.
What is left of us must carry on. Oh god we must.