Republicans have gained majority control of the House of Representatives, Senate, Supreme Court, and the Oval Office with commentators describing it as the beginning of a new Conservative era.
This is the world of Liberal Crime Squad, the 2002 freeware game by Tarn Adams. The game positions you as the founder and leader of a group concerned with turning the United States away from the oppressive Conservative ideals that have swept the nation, and instead towards more Liberal government policies.
The game takes place in a US that caricatures both Republican and Democratic parties in the same tone as political cartoons. By doing so, it softens the elements of political horror and brings a bit of comedy and absurdity to an otherwise serious topic. While the game positions Liberals as the heroes and Conservatives as the villains, it also depicts both sides as strawmen extremists. One of the game’s Liberal goals, for example, is granting animals the right to marry; while Conservative goals include making flag burning legally equivalent to murder, and using death squads to suppress unacceptable speech.
The largest barrier to the game is likely to be the lack of graphics and the rather steep learning curve, two things it shares with Adams’ other creation, Dwarf Fortress (Reviewed for The Peak previously on June 6, 2016). Much of the game takes place in simple menus, and though a good portion does also involve moving your squad around a number of game maps, even these are depicted plainly and with only an occasional dash of colour.
While the game positions Liberals as heroes, it does allow the player to engage in violent, criminal, and hypocritical behaviour. For example, players can match the Conservative forces shot for shot, gunning down their enemies with the very types of guns they wish to ban. Alternatively, players can operate completely non-violently, without a drop of blood spilled as they passionately play guitars until their enemies break down in tears and lower their weapons.
Other activities your squads can engage in range from playing street music and selling pot brownies, to hacking the CIA or causing a nuclear meltdown. Nearly all of your actions will have a positive or negative effect on public opinion (freeing sweatshop workers will draw attention to harsh labour laws, for example) which will in turn affect policy decisions as well as the political leanings of elected officials.
Changes to the law will also affect gameplay, such as tighter gun regulation making it more difficult to buy guns, and the current stance on police regulation having an impact on whether your members survive arrest.
The game carries a disclaimer that its scope is “narrower than that of real life,” and underscores that it is meant as entertainment. Though Adams stopped working on the game in 2004, a dedicated fan community continues to develop and add features to the game.
With such an extreme election having just taken place in the United States, many people are fearful for their lives, and the division between the political left and right has become much more apparent. For people who can overcome the graphics and learning curve, this game will perhaps allow for a sort of escape, as well as an outlet where they can cause drastic political change on a simulated American hellscape.
Liberal Crime Squad is available for free at LCS.wikidot.com