A new RPG set in a medieval world launched on Steam this week, but it's not what you'd expect. There are no elves to romance, no spells to sling, and none of story tropes brought about by Lord of the Rings or Dungeons & Dragons. The Executioner does give you an axe, but it might be the heaviest axe you've ever wielded in a game. That's because it's weighed down by every grim choice you make.
The Executioner is a text-based RPG that released this past Wednesday. Developer Lesser Evil Games calls it "a multi-part epic adventure into the cruel and unforgiving political sphere of medieval times." You play as the executioner in these dark times, which are rendered in heavily shaded black-and-white.
As you can see from the screenshot, the story is driven by your choices. And the choices get grim fast, including a moment where you may have to execute your own father. The moral quandaries follow you off the chopping block, too, as you are charged with getting a signed confession from your prisoners. By any means necessary. A torture system ensures that the necessary means will be most unpleasant.
If that wasn't enough, there's also the matter of sanity. You can only torture and behead so many people before the brutality takes its toll. Sanity will be a resource that you'll have to manage, lest you become as mad as some of your prisoners. "We were inspired to create this game by a question: 'How do people, whose work is inflicting pain and killing other humans, actually live?'" said Lead Writer Elena Sivakova.
Games based around moral choice are notoriously hard to pull off, with the options usually being two very different extremes of good and evil. Hopefully The Executioner can avoid this trap and deliver an uncomfortable experience that matches its moody art style. As it looks now, it could go either way. The balance between torture and sanity seems promising, but we haven't seen enough of the story to know just how consequence is actually implemented. Steam reviews are mixed at the time of this writing, with players praising the atmosphere but criticizing the poor English translation. It is also on sale, however, which might make it a good time to purchase and wait for a translation patch.
The Executioner is available now on Steam for $9.99.