It takes a lot for me to actually enjoy satire, and the bar in games isn’t always set very high. Lord knows, it actually needs to be funny and sharp, and that key ingredient—it needs to be recognizably satirical, not just 90s style edgelord ironic. And lo, the free, playable demo of The White House at Night is extremely funny.
It’s a visual novel/choose your own adventure style game that stars you as a journalist, facing down Steve Bannon at his shitty Bannon-ist, giving you an “off the record” account of Trump’s encounters with ghosts in the house. It’s flavored, liberally, with horrible Bannon rhetoric, praising “presidential” patriotic ideals, shitting on “liberal” college values, comparing Obama to a famed disney movie wherein “a charismatic muslim protagonist lies about his heritage to con his way into higher office,” and so on.
There’s basically nothing he says that isn’t horrible, shitty, ableist, or racist, the very framework of the Breitbart ideal. But it’s framed against these wonderfully awful photoshop compositions that are just the right degree of self-aware.
Look at this face. Look at this Bannon face and tell me that these words aren’t the perfect juxtaposition of awful that makes satire really, actually work.
In part of the story, you take the role of Donald as he has a very special encounter with a glass of diet coke/the ghost of his brother Freddy. And other, more “presidential” encounters in other areas of the house. It’s goofy as hell and pretty much tonally perfect.
Again, the purposely amateur artwork really sells the comedy. It sort of looks like what Trump himself might make, if he was set to task with a copy of Photoshop 1 and a few bits of clip art. “Mr. President, what would a ghost story look like?” some official would ask, and he’d sit down and scrawl as best he could, much in the spirit of throwing paper towels around Puerto Rico, until he came up with something like this:
Sadly, it all ends very abruptly, with a fourth-wall-demolishing note from the developer. Which also, in the context and spirit of the work, is kind of perfect. This is very much meant to be a prologue to a longer, in-development project, but if it’s any indication of the bigger game, then great things will spring forth from developer miserytourism in the future.
You can download the demo for free on the game’s itch.io page.
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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/ywep4k/bannon-trump-ghost-story