HOW TO Nathaniel Berens on how he con­structed a haunt­ing nar­ra­tive in Sage­brush

PC GAMER (US) - - MONITOR -

In­tent

Berens wished to de­pict a cult with more nu­ance (and re­al­ism) than is typ­i­cally seen in videogames. “That nec­es­sar­ily meant brush­ing up against sen­si­tive top­ics like phys­i­cal, emo­tional, and sex­ual abuse,” Berens says.

Re­search

Berens scoured books, in­ter­views, and au­dio record­ings (in­clud­ing the chill­ing fi­nal mo­ments of Jim Jones’ Peo­ples Tem­ple) for first-hand in­for­ma­tion on cult op­er­a­tions, as well as how they af­fect peo­ple in their thrall.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing Blind Spots

Fa­ther James, the cult pa­tri­arch, is a con­tra­dic­tory mix of char­ac­ter flaws and em­pathic ma­nip­u­la­tion. Faith and smoke. This was in­ten­tional, but Berens ad­mits his in­abil­ity to re­late to the char­ac­ter weak­ened the de­pic­tion.

Ex­e­cu­tion

Play­ers ex­pe­ri­ence the story af­ter its events, dis­tanc­ing them from hor­rors of the com­pound. Im­agery is also evoca­tive rather than graphic, al­low­ing you to an­a­lyse what hap­pened in a way that dis­turbs but re­tains dig­nity.

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