Harvey Smith on the politics of Redfall, and how its undead were born from real-life bloodsuckers

March 22, 2023
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Redfall is a silly game about shooting vampires, but also not. Yes, it’s about clearing a town of a supernatural nuisance using flashy powers and souped up weaponry – and there’s much more on how it plays in Aoife’s video below – but, just as with Arkane’s previous series Dishonored, there’s also much more going on beneath the surface.

After time with the game myself, I was surprised to find Redfall’s combat pitted my character against actual living, breathing humans just as often as the undead. Two human factions stand out: true-believer cultists who have thrown their lot in with the vampires as our new gods, and then members of Bellweather, a Blackwater-style private military contractor. These groups help keep combat varied, and offer a somewhat easier experience than the game’s fast-moving recently-deceased. In Redfall, vampires can zoom up and quickly swarm you, and require not just bullets but also a final stake to put back in the grave.

Perhaps more interesting, however, are the reasons why any of these groups are enemies at all – and it’s down to the way Redfall’s world has been brought to life by creator Harvey Smith, designer of Deus Ex and creative director of both Dishonored and its sequel. As a recent story trailer for Redfall makes clear, this game’s brand of bloodsuckers were born from the capitalistic vampirism of Aveum Therapeutics, a money-minded Big Pharma corp left to experiment unchecked. Its schemes gone awry led to the New England town being taken over by actual vampires (as well as those two human factions seeking to profit from the undead’s presence).

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