Number of Reviews: 10
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Subverting guess-the-verb for human rights, August 5, 2008
Do you want to torture foreigners in the name of the holy "war on terrorism"? Well, here is your chance. The range of conversation topics with the sole NPC (Abdul, a suspected "terrorist") is wide, but he will only reply in his own language (at least, initially...). If you are unwilling or unable to take the time to examine his responses (I discovered, with the help of some machine translation, that they seem to be genuine phrases that react to his current status and there is more going on than meets the eye), you will inevitably end up resorting to brute force and Lynndie England-style humiliation.
Here, the de-humanizing warlike aspects of the "war" are laid bare, with point scored for each and every creative use of abuse verbs applied to various parts of Abdul's shivering, naked body. It's an incredibly shallow approach to simulating a highly disturbing scenario, likely to be dismissed as "sick" by the easily offended. But look deeper to reveal the pro-humanist agenda. The "entryist" tactic is that of a torture simulator in which the PC enjoys his or her job (again, see Lynndie England), in which the parser begrudgingly rejects sexual abuse as being "sadly less acceptable", and in which the in-game help comes in the form of a "Memo from High Command" that regards the Geneva Convention as a minor nuisance. But disguised underneath is a bleakly funny role-playing game that asks the question: "How far are you willing to go?". And by extension, how far are you willing to let those in positions of authority, the ones that represent you, go? Does your meek head-in-the-sand acquiescence not vindicate and legitimise their warlike aggression?
Rendition never spells out it's affiliations: Abdul is simply from "the East". You are one of the self-proclaimed "chosen people". All we learn from About/Credits is that the game is a "political art experiment". Rendition, like the best contemporary art, makes the player think about the issues they'd rather not think about. Yes, the results are both disgusting and offensive... yet it somehow brings you closer to the truth than any number of "balanced" news reports could ever do.