(Paintbucket Games/HandyGames; PC, Mac, iOS, Android)
This captivating game, in which you coordinate a group of anti-Nazi activists in 1930s Berlin, is an essential reminder of how fascism takes root and grows
The full and final exposure of atrocities perpetrated by the Nazi regime during the second world war inoculated Europeans against fascism’s treacherous appeal. “Lest we forget” became a pledge to not only remember the dead, but to also remain fiercely vigilant for the creeping circumstances that led to those deaths. Four score years on and, with fascism rising across Europe and totalitarian-adjacent behaviour from western leaders (the undermining of the free press; the villainising of immigrants; a government rich on spin, poor on meaningful accountability), it seems the vaccine is weakening. Through the Darkest of Times, a strategy game from a Berlin-based indie studio, seeks to provide a top-up dose.
The game opens in Berlin in 1933, a socially, politically and culturally progressive city laid low by the Great Depression, now the seat of Hitler’s power. You gather a small group of concerned citizens from different economic and political backgrounds, united by their disgust. The game advances in weekly “turns”, in which you must allocate team members to a range of activities – recruiting supporters, gathering funds, buying illicit supplies from sympathetic shop owners or daubing anti-government slogans on the city walls – according to their skills. You then watch as each action plays out. Success will increase your clandestine group’s power and influence, but if you’ve chosen poorly there’s a good chance your members could be spotted, followed and killed.