This might be the darkest timeline, especially for Mickey Mouse fans. The recent announcement of “Infestation: Origins,” a video game drawing inspiration from the now public domain character Steamboat Willie, underscores the creative and sometimes controversial ways in which classic characters can be reimagined. The game, developed by Nightmare Forge Games, is an episodic four-player co-op survival adventure, where players assume the roles of exterminators battling mutated vermin, including a monstrous version of Mickey Mouse.
A Dark Twist on Mickey Mouse
This version of Mickey Mouse is very different from the conventional character. Unlike traditional portrayals, this Mickey is far from the cheerful icon we know. Here, he’s a person-sized menace in a game that melds elements of popular titles like “Phasmophobia” and “Lethal Company.” Players must use various tools and maintain power for equipment while evading these giant, murderous rodents.
The Controversies Surrounding the Game
However, the game hasn’t been without its controversies. Its original title, “Infestation 88,” was changed following backlash due to perceived Neo-Nazi associations (with “88” being a known dog whistle). Nightmare Forge Games responded swiftly, clarifying the title referenced the game’s late 1980s setting and denouncing any form of hate or Nazism.
Criticism has also been leveled at the game’s production quality, with accusations of asset flipping and the use of AI-generated voiceovers, common in lower-budget or “shovelware” games. The developers have acknowledged using assets from popular game development stores but assert that there’s significant original work involved. They also plan to replace AI voiceovers with real actors in the future.
A Reminder of the Responsibilities
While “Infestation: Origins” promises a unique, albeit dark, take on a classic, it also serves as a reminder of the responsibilities that come with reinterpreting cultural symbols, something as massive as Mickey Mouse. The game, slated for an early access release on Steam, is being watched with a mix of curiosity and caution by the community.