Preview: Confronting Nazi horror in Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein releases 5/20.
What made the preview build of Wolfenstein: The New Order so harsh for me were the reminders and references to just what made the Nazis one of the worst evils to blight the face of the Earth. The first two hours of that demo felt more like a horror movie than a first-person shooter, because I felt like I was fighting real Nazis in a video game for the very first time.
That’s not to say this is a realistic historical document or anything. The New Order takes place in an alternate history where the Germans win the war, and there’s a strong sci-fi element to enemies, like giant robotic rats, cybernetically enhanced dogs, human soldiers piloting giant tripod mechs, and flying robot patrol drones. Amid all that fiction, there are distinct references to a not-at-all supernatural evil perpetrated by the Nazis of the sort that I haven’t seen (or at least can’t recall) in any previous Wolfenstein game.
At one point, the game leads you into a morgue with bloody sack cloths thrown over corpses on examination tables and diagrams of experimental human enhancement designs on the walls. Another room has corpses held up by their necks, skin pulled back from their backbones and held in place with clamps. “There’s ashes down here. There’s a lot of ashes down here,” says one of the soldiers who accompanies you into that room. If you don’t know what the scene is trying to evoke, you need to read some history.