It has officially been a year since Red Candle Games was forced to delist its outstanding first-person psychological horror title, Devotion, and there is still no sign that it will ever return. However, Harvard University will be taking steps to ensure that the game and its legacy, will be preserved.
According to a post from Red Candle’s Facebook page, the Harvard-Yenching Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts will be adding both Devotion and its predecessor, harrowing indie horror title Detention, to its collection. The library is home to one of the biggest and most carefully curated collections of historically significant East Asian art in the United States.
Famously, Devotion was pulled due to outrage from Chinese players that the game contained art assets seemingly mocking Chinese president Xi Jinping, and pointing out his resemblance to Winnie the Pooh, a sensitive subject in the country. Devotion’s removal led to Red Candle Games’ publisher pulling all support for it, and its removal from sale on Steam. All videos of Devotion were also removed from the company’s YouTube channel, and Red Candle Games left Weibo, China’s biggest social media platform. However, the inclusion of Detention in the library suggests the games are being inducted less for their controversy but for being legitimately powerful East Asian art. Both games use the actual historical backdrop of Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s to tell their horror stories. With only ten days on the market, Devotion’s legacy has become much like P.T.’s: a game better known for its tragic cancellation more than the brilliant, thought-provoking horror experience it is.
“It is an incredible honour which belongs to not only Red Candle but also our supporters/players worldwide,” says the statement on Facebook. “As game designers, never have we thought that our works could one day be added to its prestige collection. While we truly appreciate the recognition, we had also taken this opportunity to rethink the possibilities that our games could achieve.” As for when we’ll be able to see what Red Candle achieves next, that’s still, sadly, up in the air, though they are still hopeful. “Although the current status might not be ideal, we are still here and that nothing has changed–we are and will always develop games with the same passion. It’s a tough year for many of us, but we will keep going, and hopefully in the future we could share more works with you all.”
Our original review scored Devotion a 9/10, with Richard Wakeling stating that the game, “evokes P.T.’s terrifying spirit to paint an inventive, thought-provoking, and insidious portrait of family life within the claustrophobic confines of a small Taiwanese apartment.” He goes on to write that, “as much as Devotion is about its characters and the fantastic way their development coalesces with that of the ever-changing apartment–with the increasingly dishevelled rooms acting as a poignant metaphor for the family–it’s also about a specific time and place; delving into the role of women in 1980’s Taiwan, feminine beauty standards, the infancy of mental health research and the stigmas attached to it, and the sometimes dangerous faith desperate people will place in religion. Explorations of Taoism and Buddhism might not completely resonate with a Western audience, but the story is told in such a way that it’s relatively easy to read through the lines and understand the awful, heartbreaking extremes people are willing to go to for those they love.”
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