Lucifer Within Us poses a intriguing premise – what happens when the digital and spiritual mix … and when daemons infect the machine. It’s the newest indie coming from Kitfox Games and the designers behind The Shrouded Isle, and it’s coming to PC at an unspecified release date. Kitfox made the announcement today at the Kinda Funny Games Showcase at this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), gaming’s big even in Los Angeles.
You play as a digital exorcist of sorts (I think of it as like a white hat hacker) as you solve a murder mystery in a world that takes inspiration from the likes of Blade Runner, Black Mirror, and The Matrix. You’re dealing with technology that can scan your very soul. It’s a different sort of game, but that’s not surprise from the people who made The Shrouded Isle, a management sim about cults. You question suspects (who may be lying to you), banish daemonic AIs, and expose the false utopia of the digital world.
I had a tough time figuring this out, so I reached out to Kitfox and creative director Jongwoo Kim. First off, I couldn’t figure out if the daemons were spiritual … or digital.
“The game takes place in a futuristic theocracy in which the digital is the spiritual,” Kim said. “Imagine if an ancient culture developed while having access to information technology, and therefore its religion incorporates entities that exist in digital space. You’re an exorcist, and that involves purging A.I., so it’s both digital and spiritual, at the same time.”
The Cult of Apple, the game. But it’s just a quip. Lucifer is more of an examination of how ideas about our reliance on technology go from tools we use to part of our culture – and to dominating it.
“I wanted to explore a future that is different than the typical Blade Runner inspired corporate cyberpunk or a Black Mirror style surveillance dystopia. What if technological advancement did not result in a materialist culture but became integrated into spiritualist beliefs? ” Kim said “In a world where daemons truly exist and drive people to act on their darkest desires, must freedom of thought and expression be sacrificed for the greater good? These are some of the questions we hope to explore in Lucifer Within Us.”
An ancient digital network known as the Aether underpins this entire world.
“The line between the digital and organic is blurred due to societal dependence on the Aether, an ancient digital network that predates the Church. All humans are given cybernetic implants to mentally interface with the Aether, allowing them access to rapid communication, vast databases of knowledge, and machine-like proficiency with Aether-connected devices,” Kim said. “Unfortunately, daemons lurk in the Aether, quietly seeking vulnerable souls, and possessing them in a moment of moral weakness.”
Another thought I had – is the digital exorcist essentially a white hat hacker?
“As far as their role in society, digital exorcists are similar to white hat hackers. But their investigative methods and philosophies are closer to what ‘traditional’ exorcists do, trying to understand the psychology and motivations of a suspect to identify what daemon might be possessing them and cast it out,” Kim said. “In some ways, this is similar to identifying an infecting virus, but in other ways, such as the rituals involved, it’s quite different.”
In this case, the devil is indeed in the details – the digital details.