The Killer

The Killer screenshot

The Killer

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

A small notgame inspired by the thousands of senseless killings committed in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime. Requires no gaming skills whatsoever. Takes about three minutes to play through. Made for my GameTrekking project.

Discussion and Reactions: Newgrounds, Giant Bomb, GameTrekking, Twitter.

This game was ported to GameMaker/HTML5 in 2022 by myself, Raven Lickey, and Grayson Molesworth. The port is true to the original Flash version, except that the end screens were notably removed. The original Flash version can still be played at Newgrounds or downloaded here.

Content warning: disturbing themes.

Some kind words:

Powerful, right? (Patrick Klepek, senior reporter at Gawker Media).

I recommend The Killer as a great example of using retro sensibilities in entirely new ways. The 8-bit style pixel graphics are resonant of the early home computers, but the play (or rather experience) of this artlet is not like anything from the 1980s. Its sensibilities are clearly aesthetic and representational – it asks you to put yourself into a particular situation, and the more you accept its fiction the more effective it will be in terms of its emotional impact. Highly recommended (Chris Bateman, author of Beyond Game Design and Imaginary Games).

What is most interesting about The Killer is that it is a simple, short, independently developed game with a simple message. There is no totality to Magnuson’s argument, neither to this editorial, nor does it make the world’s most coherent and poignant commentary on Cambodia, or on interactivity in games. It does, however, inspire conversation and discussion around an unavoidable issue that will forever trouble video games and their violent tendencies. Not only this, but it goes some way to promote an understanding of our beloved interactive medium as something with serious artistic and social potential (Fraser Elliot, Robot Geek article).

A lot more thought-provoking than its simple title suggests (Eric Caoili, GameSetWatch).

A short game but no less affecting for that – it’s surprising and thoughtful and has a reason for being, which is more than can be said for a whole lot of games these days ("25 Great Games From 2011", Don’t Shoot For Food).

I have seldom experienced such raw emotion from a video game. I have traveled to a few of the places featured in your games and learnt a small proportion of their history in the process. however, after playing each game I had to research more and more and more (Dan B, GameTrekking comments).

On the flip side:

This isn’t deep or powerful in any way… It’s cheap. It’s a piece of art… that uses an emotionally impactful scene like a mass grave as a cheap grab at your heart strings to say "You should care about Cambodia" (insanejedi, comment at Giant Bomb).

Pretentious games, movies and books make me sick. Especially the ones that tell me I need to care about something (Fenrisulfr, comment at Giant Bomb).


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