Introduction [Music] his soul was mad being alone in the wilderness it had looked within itself and by heavens i tell you it had gone mad he struggled with himself too i saw it i heard it i saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint no faith and no fear yet struggling blindly with itself he cried in a whisper at some image at some vision he cried out twice a cry that was no more than a breath the horror the horror [Music] heart of darkness is a novel written by joseph conrad in 1899 about a fictional englishman named charles marlow who recounts his voyage into the depths of an african colony and the increasing insanity savagery and ultimately death that appears to befall the white pioneers and ivory hunters that dare enter it it is a canonical extensively researched text that most modern post-colonial academia has come to interpret as a failed attempt at anti-colonial literature a work of art that may very well intend to condemn colonialism yet relies heavily on the very same themes and rhetoric that was at the time used to legitimize the colonialist practice that it was supposedly criticizing postcolonial criticism of the text goes back as far as the movement itself with nigerian author chinua achebes an image of africa in 1977 heart of darkness projects the image of africa as the other world the antithesis of europe and therefore of civilization a place where a man's intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality western scholars then took up this new viewpoint and expanded on it in one such article from 1985 patrick brandlinger writes heart of darkness offers a powerful critique of at least certain manifestations of imperialism and racism at the same time that it presents that critique in ways that can only be characterized as both imperialist and racist conrad portrays the moral bankruptcy of imperialism by showing european actions to be no better than african savagery his version of evil is going native in short evil is african in conrad's story if it is european that's because some number of white men in the heart of darkness behave like africans the book is therefore understood to enshrine a set of colonialist concepts that arguably still dominate if in a more subtle form our contemporary western discourse on not only africa itself but whatever we perceive consciously or subconsciously as the uncivilized other its probably most famous cinematic adaptation is the movie apocalypse now an anti-vietnam war film ostensibly criticizing the barbaric atrocities committed by the americans against the native population by depicting the native population as barbarians that commit atrocities and merely corrupted the americans into doing the same as a result of its harmful implications the story has naturally fallen out of fashion and modern retellings have become increasingly rare as they struggle to simultaneously uphold and subvert the core features of the original delving straight into the heart of darkness 47 good luck there have been several recent attempts across all forms of storytelling media each with their own approach to recontextualizing heart of darkness for a modern reader viewer or player but none are as blatant about the relation to their source material as ubisoft's 2008 sequel to the original far cry not only is this second entry in the franchise set in africa but the game stages its climax in a fictional swampland literally called heart of darkness seeing as the game boldly stuck with the original setting of africa how does it deviate from its reference material and where on the spectrum between revisionism and perpetuation of heart of darkness's rhetoric can it be located now let me say this preemptively this video will dive into topics of imperialism neocolonialism and chiefly racism if you have never engaged with literary studies before welcome you might be surprised to hear that you can many would even say should interpret a cultural artifact solely based on its content and socio-cultural context alone now by contrast some viewers might at times feel the urge to tell me that i am over interpreting that this is not what the developers were thinking when they created this game and that they didn't intend any of this to which i would reply yes yes they likely did not anyway this is also a trigger warning i will touch upon very racist colonialist descriptions and depictions of non-white people the topic of civilian massacres both fictional and real as well as death in general however i will not display any photo imagery of dead or wounded people video structure and plot summaries to determine the most viable points of comparison between the two texts and then structure the video around them we must first get an overview over what these texts actually contain which requires a quick rundown of the plots of both the novel and the game in addition a brief postcolonial analysis of heart of darkness will highlight the angle that i will adopt to analyze the game later on heart of darkness in heart of darkness protagonist marlow recounts his perilous journey to the dark continent his younger self fascinated with exploration and discovery seizes the opportunity to sign with an ivory trading company and sails to africa to replace one of their captains who got killed by the natives upon arrival marlow is immediately struck by the horrors of the land mass graves of diseased native workers a tropical illness that plagues the company's stations and a madness and desire for violence and infighting that appears to have befallen even the most high ranking officers along with a curious decline in overall sanity here is just an excerpt from one of the first officers marlow meets at the central station the business entrusted to this fellow was the making of bricks so i had been informed but there wasn't a fragment of a brick anywhere in the station and he had been there more than a year waiting it seems he could not make bricks without something i don't know what straw maybe anyway it could not be found there and as it was not likely to be sent from europe it did not appear clear to me what he was waiting for an act of special creation perhaps however they were all waiting all the 16 or 20 pilgrims of them for something though the only thing that ever came to them was disease as far as i could see the steamer that marlow was supposed to helm is in disrepair and the station lacks the necessary tools to fix it while waiting several months for the materials to arrive he learns of a mysterious station master named kurtz who dwells deep in the jungle and apparently produces more ivory than all other stations together supposedly because he has adopted the violent and horrifying customs of the natives who hailed him as their divine leader however rumor goes he is terribly ill and his station might soon be lost once the steamer is ready marlo and his crew therefore depart for kurtz's camp but the deeper into the darkness of the jungle they penetrate the more terrifying and maddening their encounters grow many succumb to fear starvation illness and even native war parties when marlow finally reaches kurtz he finds him a confused and dying man in command of belligerent but loyal almost devout natives with his final words kurtz bestows upon marlow the conclusion to his journey into the darkness that broke him the horror the horror himself very ill by this point marlow barely escapes africa and returns to europe safe but forever changed heart of darkness attempts to establish an anti-colonialist message but its main tool in order to achieve this is to turn its other ring up to 11. you see according to conrad colonialism isn't wrong because it is built on the concept of portraying its victims as subhumans in order to legitimize the taking of their lives land and resources no it is wrong because africa is wrong its hostile nature and savage subhuman inhabitants are simply incompatible with civilized westerners instead of criticizing the inherent goals of colonialism which protagonist marlow even praises as redeeming it places the blame for the atrocities committed in its name squarely on some sort of growing insanity and sickness among the colonizers due to the continued exposure to africa and africans this rhetoric essentially hails the exploits of colonialism while providing an easy excuse for its atrocities torture and genocide was never our intent it was the place we went to that corrupted us into the monsters we became throughout the book the natives both allies and enemies are repeatedly portrayed as animal-like creatures capable of terrible acts and rituals against the influence of which the colonizers must but inevitably fail to protect themselves one of the main takeaways from the book is that the black natives of africa represent man at the beginning of time irrational at their core while the white colonizers have progressed to a state of reason the white male rational subject does however still have the remnants of this past man in himself and is therefore susceptible to its corrupting influence since no one is able to withstand this deep-seated fascination with primal savagery the only way to survive africa is to return home as quickly as possible the nationalist implications are clear the superior whites belong to europe the inferior blacks belong to africa and they must not intermingle the greed for ivory is deplorable but it is only in combination with africa that it turns good-hearted white men into insane violent animals the most successful ivory poacher of the book is after all also the one that spent the most time among the natives adopted their rituals and became their revered leader and who committed the worst atrocities violence is therefore no longer linked to the colonizers but the corrupting influence of the violent natives and their antagonistic personified homeland of africa so this is what we're up against this is what far cry 2 wants to see itself compared to so let's do exactly that to break a man's will to break his spirit you have to break his mind men have this idea that we can fight with dignity that is a proper way to kill someone we needed to endure the bloody horror of murder you must destroy that idea show them what a messy terrible thing it is to kill a man and then show them that you relish in it destroy the preconceptions of what a man is and you become their personal monster when they fear you you become stronger you become better but let's never forget it's a display it's a posture like a lion's roar or a gorilla thumping at his chest if you lose yourself in the display if you succumb to the horror then you become the monster you become reduced not more than a man but less and it can be fatal this was a recording from one of far cry 2's main characters nicknamed the jackal a mysterious and manipulative arms dealer who after spending years in africa has progressively succumbed to the savagery of the very wars he helped start or reignite a mercenary for hire the protagonist is sent in to locate and eliminate him in order to put an end to his destabilizing influence over the region and help restore order upon arrival in the unnamed country the assassin is immediately confronted with the reality of the situation two warring factions have seized control of the war-torn state and the economy and infrastructure aren't shambled private militia many of them foreigners to the land are aiding the native warlords in their efforts to seize power and hunt down the fleeing civilian population before he even sets foot on the ground however the protagonist contracts a severe case of malaria malaria malaria [Music] the protagonist contracts a severe case of malaria and falls unconscious before awaking in the capital in the midst of a chaotic outbreak of violence between the two militia groups orchestrated by the jekyll himself he barely escapes with his life and in order to survive must now earn a reputation among the warlords by doing their bidding for payments of diamonds inching ever closer to a lead on the jackal's whereabouts over the course of his journey he meets and is in turn shaped by bloodthirsty but childish warlords hopelessly naive civilians and scheming foreign mercenaries that are losing their grip on reality himself slowly descending into the madness that appears to have taken hold of the country the protagonist soon sees himself commit the same crimes and atrocities he intended to prevent the jackal from committing actively preventing peace in order to keep the warlords occupied and the diamonds flowing differences between the two factions between good and evil human and inhuman become blurry and soon there is no more end to justify the means only violence for its own sake when the factions eventually join forces to capture and kill all dissidents to their tyrannical rule together the jackal and his assassin determined that the actual cause for the horrors of this place is the place itself and that in order to save its civilian population from a massacre the entire corrupted rest of the country must be exterminated including the two of them both suffering from the final stages of their fatal diseases they head into the heart of darkness where the two factions have now set up their united headquarters to eliminate all their soldiers officers and leaders among them are the protagonists former mercenary friends who betray him over a briefcase full of diamonds and are therefore killed as well the jackal and the protagonist then coordinate a final plan whereby one delivers the briefcase to the civilians at the border to pay for their escape while the other detonates the past behind them to cut off access to the country for good before ultimately succumbing to his tropical disease the protagonist commits suicide although it remains unclear whether the jackal makes good on his promise to do the same with these two plot summaries out of the way it is easy to spot the core themes shared by both texts in order to compare them to one another the video structure will therefore follow the main stages along this shared journey that the main characters of both the game and the book undergo first they are confronted with the other as they are appalled by it they seek to control it in trying to control it they engage with and start to adopt the behavior of the other thus entering the threshold once they have crossed this line their corruption cannot be reversed they have become the other and must therefore die The Other we penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness it was very quiet there we could have fancied ourselves the first of men taking possession of an accursed inheritance but suddenly as we struggled round the bend there would be a burst of yells a whirl of black limbs a mass of hands clapping of feet stamping of bodies swaying of eyes rolling the prehistoric man was cursing us praying to us welcoming us who could tell we glided past like phantoms wandering and secretly appalled as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse we could not understand because we were too far and could not remember because we were traveling in the night of first ages of those ages that are gone leaving hardly a sign and no memories at the core of heart of darkness lies the contrast between the familiar and the other marlow representing the familiar pierces into the heart of the dark continent exposed to the incomprehensible disgusting and most importantly alluring sights sounds and beings that dwell within typical for the literature of its time it conveys these categories as an essentialist binary opposition the book tells us that at the center of africa lies darkness the unknown and danger the white pioneer must penetrate into that darkness with a beacon of civilization and bring enlightenment to its black natives the inflictions of africa on the minds of the white colonizers are symbolized by the literal corruption of their bodies tropical diseases that appear to afflict nearly every outsider that enters it the west gives life africa means death this colonialist rhetoric is based upon the concept of the west as the paragon of culture whereas africa represents pure nature which absolves the west from any guild of exterminating cultures and pillaging the resources of another civilization since the africans have no culture they are therefore part of nature of the primitive wilderness they are the land they do not work it and therefore they do not own it which leaves it ripe for the taking in order to legitimize the means by which the land is then taken the west is considered to represent order and sanity while africa symbolizes chaos and insanity which makes it all the easier to blame africa for violence while the west is perceived as merely reacting to the impulsive aggressions of the supposed savages from a default position of peaceful intentions the final opposition is what anse bloch calls un gleicheitkeit or non-synchronicity africa and the orient along with their inhabitants are contained in a bubble of eternal past while the west represents the present progress and history this dichotomy allows for a strict hierarchy of knowledge in granting power to the westerners that is inaccessible to africans turning them into mere children who must be aided but who are excluded from ever becoming adults like their colonizer parents a rhetoric often used by colonizing nations throughout history to legitimize their authority and superiority while subdued natives are considered childlike buffoons those capable of violence are framed as barbarians and cannibals more animal than men more inhuman than human this contrast between the familiar and the other and the fear of a third space that links the two and allows a civilized white man to drift off and become the inhuman savage he was meant to control represents the preferred reading of heart of darkness at the time of its publishing and the main ideology that it communicates it tells us that if the natives are in fact human and they represent our past their perceived savagery is part of us too it lies at the primal core of our humanity and can erupt when seduced by the other we are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster but there there you could look at a thing monstrous and free it was unearthly and the men were no they were not inhuman well you know that was the worst of it this suspicion of their not being inhuman they howled and leaped and spun and made horrid faces but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity like yours the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar africa journey to the center of the earth heart of darkness and far cry 2 never specify the concrete area within africa where their narratives take place heart of darkness doesn't need to because to its colonialist readership africa did not consist of any countries just colonies and far cry 2 doesn't want to because it would undermine its focus on the westerners experience to whom all of africa can be sufficiently summarized under one name without losing any details that would be relevant to the rhetoric that the game employs since the western lens does not see any differentiation within africa it would be an unnecessary risk to single out and name an arbitrary country whose government might then threaten a lawsuit against the publisher for the portrayal of their country as an anarchic fever dream but don't worry ubisoft know what they're doing on that front when we start in the game and when we want this game to take place in the reality it's very important for us to go there to study to see the people to find the landscape ourselves we came back with 15 000 a photo 15 hours of video of interview of footage of everything it was a amazing to be able to do that and amazing to be able to recreate that after it took us four years if one had to pinpoint it heart of darkness was most likely inspired by impressions of the congo while far cry 2's references to real world ethnicities such as the traditional architecture of the dogon people suggest that the game takes place in southern mali however portraying the natives patriotism for a specific african country would still appear inconsequential by postcolonial standards today's borders were after all drawn according to the foreign economic and military interests of western imperialism rather than the actual ethnic and cultural affiliations of the indigenous population this post-colonial complexity highlights the gravity of the game's decision to instead default to the same colonialist understanding of africa as the one found in its 120 year old source material both settings are defined as the heart of darkness as the very core and essential representation of the other and that other is africa this allows for the two protagonists metaphorical journeys not only to the center of a continent but the supposed primitive core of their own humanity the best way i can explain it to you is by saying that for a second or two i felt as though instead of going to the center of a continent i were about to set off for the center of the earth in the game this does lead to some awkward dialogue in which natives talk about the affection for their country without ever naming the country and instead basing their cultural identity on the entirety of the african continent this is my last war for better for wars i am african this is my home this is my house my country my continent you are a scavenger and a trespasser if marlow's first experiences on the steamer and at the outer stations introduced the beginning of the end of civilization so must far cry 2's opening instead of heart of darkness's outposts with ever rising degrees of madness the game starts with a linear taxi ride in which the country's crisis is roughly explained but also more importantly severely downplayed to heighten the effect of otherness we learn that militarized factions have taken hold but also that it's okay the kid to themselves most of the time a car wreckage on the side of the road don't let this concern you just boys heading off steam right you remember and the guard post militia don't like the propaganda spewing radio dj maybe his music choices who knows not only are we surrounded by unfamiliar sights but our first native contact does not seem to perceive them the way we do implying that survival in this irrational place requires adopting an irrational mindset the protagonist's irritating disconnect from the cab driver's embellished portrayal of reality and inhumanly calm reaction to apparent danger is fully in line with heart of darkness's rendering of irrationally apathetic behavior among the indigenous population as for example with this depiction of allied natives in reaction to what appears to be cannibal war cries from the dark thicket it was very curious to see the contrast of expressions of the white men and of the black fellows of our crew the whites of course greatly discomposed had besides a curious look of being painfully shocked by such an outrageous row the others had an alert naturally interested expression but their faces were essentially quiet even those of the one or two who grinned several exchanged short grunting phrases which seemed to settle the matter to their satisfaction this stark contrast between the familiar and the other is further established when we as the protagonist are repeatedly referred to as a foreigner first by the cab driver and again by our first contact shortly after the intro i hear the apr's got a hostage in there some foreign national like you while the game allows the player to choose from an array of different backgrounds every protagonist option is that of a foreigner all of the men and most of them white on top of that those from the list that are not chosen can later be encountered in the game world as potential allies to the protagonist which further exposes his specific identity as ultimately irrelevant what matters is that he is always an outsider because only then does he stand in direct opposition to africa as the essential other which allows the plot to take place to begin with denying the past the axiom of african incompetence opposite the protagonist the game's primary human manifestation of the other are the faction leaders with whom the protagonist must interact to progress the story and who are responsible for the majority of ludic and narrative content in the form of missions and dialogue their portrayal therefore embodies how the game communicates its concept of africa and how it differs from the identity of the west far cry 2 depicts two approaches to post-colonial african politics on the one hand we have the ufl short for united front for liberation and labor that represents a working-class communist ideology focused on nationalizing the means of production like the often mentioned mining business the ufl has a great leader in addie bantue who worked with the mining union to secure the rights 40 people he stood up to the men in charge he did not allow the president of the mind to continue to destroy the lies of the workers the foreign president bantui single-handedly chased the blood-sucking foreign parasites out of the business he gave the mind and the wealth back to the rightful owners the people a lot of gold and that gold comes from our minds it belongs to us sure man you tell him when you fight for the front you fight for the workers the people who built this country up brick by brick the people who saw the clothes you wear on your back on the other we have the apr short for alliance for popular resistance following a path of tradition and reinstating a pre-colonial monarchy you know this fubar country used to have a king placed back and he brought us gold with him all of it protected by those stupid apr boys but we are selling fresh water to our neighbors the ufl will not profit at the expense of our people my people both factions are however ultimately illustrated as two sides of the same corrupt coin both longing for power more than for peace the ufl secretly betray their own ideology by promising riches to their supporters that the country does not actually have taimok was a sham there are no diamonds bantuy tells the soldiers they will be rich all the diamonds they want if they just stay with him he's a liar he always has been while their leaders live luxurious lives in their ivory towers his people starve in the street and he buys gold-plated dishes it's obscene in the same vein the aprs monarchs and their henchmen reveal themselves to be power hungry i am your king detached is worthless always has been no kind of father for his country he abandoned it a long time ago and largely indifferent elitists we talk to everybody apr and ufl has always played both ends against the middle that is why he has the gold and we have this war real-life examples that most resemble the in-game depictions are possibly the marxist revolutionary thomas sankara of burkina faso and the infamously decadent king swati iii of esswatini although even these extremes do not come close to the universally hypocritical caricatures found in the game the native leaders are essentially portrayed as wide-eyed idealists that are blind to their own evil and all of them are evil in everything they do otherwise reputable goals such as economic independence on the one hand and political accountability on the other are thus ridiculed and demonized entirely what did you say you want to defend africa against foreign economic exploitation and land grabbing well that's what a genocidal communist authoritarian would say you want to reform the outdated and unfitting political system implemented by the colonial powers to more closely resemble the traditional and social structures of the native people befitting of a decadent uncaring elitist one of the most quoted aspirations in the game expressed by both factions is that of uniting africa to stand as one peaceful continent independent from foreign interference this is our struggle in africa is for africans we do not need outside involvement this will unite us one africa all africa will follow this example led by your harmful sufferings however by putting this admirable pan-african goal often uttered in the actual african postcolonial struggle into the mouths of fictional consistently naive tyrants the game paints it as a naive concept that is therefore not only unachievable but actually the cause for the tyranny and war that plagued the country to add to the naivete all leaders appear to genuinely believe in the universal good that their actions will bring to all people no matter how violent and obviously malicious they are i've decided to eliminate kwasi and asset our control in the north i will be the voice of stability and peace i would like you to attack this ride to sheila and silence their station i hope we'll consider our cause the lies this mental are helping no one and this is when we take control of this conflict and bring under stability here you know how to work with explosives we need a man to shut down a large pipeline of course we would never be involved in such a thing it must be the work of a free agent but this is what time suffering is unavoidable there it is for a greater good for a stronger africa by contrast the aid who was always a foreigner is usually portrayed as someone who sees the bigger picture and is aware of the hypocrisy on display but plays along to get paid the major and i were just discussing what to do about the radio announcer propaganda machine in this country is quite impressive really it is all lies yes of course when it's the ufl broadcasting no more money no more pmc well then keep the two cuts coming and you won't have a problem yes of course that is what matters not the work not the effort to build a strong africa oh is that what you're doing didn't realize china there's pictures of these children in our camps dying with dysentery that's very sad you know when people see these pictures it'll break their hearts they'll have to send money to help none of it will ever get those pulse swords it will eventually but it has to come to us first we know how to handle it yeah sure you do they are the adult in the room while the natives are presented like squabbling kids fighting over a toy apr is the [ __ ] now thanks to you yeah and thanks to me they'll work with me for sure they need the money that wait for me show these little boys how it's done we've ascertained no i ascertained me quasi yes the ufl this contrast runs through the entire game starting with the intro cab ride which right from the beginning establishes the theme of black people being belligerent and emotional while white people can be reasoned with in this scene the appearances of the gods are largely randomized except for their skin color the first person speaking in an african language and antagonizing the driver is always while the second person that speaks english and diffuses the situation is always white where are you you come from the airport beer we drink beer hurry up then move along yes sir thank you sir the game even highlights this contrast between reasonable westerners and violent africans by going out of its way to clarify that foreign agencies are not led into the country implying that only official outside help could save africa from death and corruption but that agencies and governments just aren't given the opportunity to do so leading ngos are calling for immediate humanitarian relief for the estimated 10 000 civilians trapped within these borders but so far no outside agencies have been granted permission to enter the country what i can tell you is that relief agencies are trying desperately to provide medical support and humanitarian aid to the civilians who are bearing the brunt of this conflict the game's rhetoric ultimately conveys that corruption and stupidity are simply part of the nature of africa and african politics regardless of foreign intervention to put it bluntly africa is its own worst enemy their crisis is the result of their own incompetence according to the game african leaders and thus their countries fail to achieve the ideals that other civilizations have reached not because of any neocolonialist political and economic pressure but because all of them are by nature incompetent a simple answer to an incredibly complex and pressing issue that not only explains nothing but also preemptively shuts down any alternative answer it is that way because they are that way and if they've always been that way nothing we ever did to them in the past caused the crisis therein right now they were doomed from the start denying the future the axiom of african violence the dire state of far cry 2s africa manifests itself in two ways for one the land is ravaged by a civil war between two factions causing destruction and suffering for their own people highlighted by the trigger happiness that repeatedly thwarts the warlord's genuine attempts at brokering peace the [ __ ] really hit the fan back in town there was supposed to be a ceasefire but that's all out the window now the jackals been hiding a massive weapons cache on his island i've worked out a way to sail those weapons straight into the city under a ufl flag tamboza will assume the front's to blame and next thing you know we're back at it i'm sorry it's just that we see so many foreign mercenaries god even this ceasefire was too much to ask for however an even more immediate threat is the violence that the warlords exact against the population in the form of extortion or outright civilian massacres and while we never see these massacres they are often mentioned not only on the radio but by the same people that wage this war i want you to focus on the real problem at hand the people they are no longer listening to us defying our others they are the threats that's right these civilians are problems we're going to get them under control i don't like the way things are going it's no longer safe i'm talking about those violent cowards that hide in their home that refuse to fight for the honor of the academy they are the enemy however the game does the 200 iq move of pitching these two forms of violence against each other effectively presenting them as a dichotomy where one of the two options must hold true to prevent the other from occurring throughout the game it is repeatedly emphasized that peace between the factions would only result in increased exploitation and extermination of civilians but what is the problem the problem is that when big dogs showing forces they usually do need to take up the rest of the pack i don't know what you mean sure you don't there's a good chance the warlords in the south could join forces now if that happens guarantee blokes like you and me are out of a job or worse shot and dumped overboard like some rotten meat the apr in the front is still coming after the civilians probably think they can kill them or drag them back over the border a peace agreement on a joke a comedy act you think these men wanted peace they wanted privacy is what they wanted they want the world to stop paying attention to them so they could go on with the raping and pillaging in peace you see this sets up an ingenious dilemma whereby violence is inevitable either between the factions or directly upon the people peace is not an option whenever the faction conflict is being reignited it is thus framed as the lesser of two evils this exempts the mercenaries from any wrongdoing as they plot against peace to keep that from happening i'm going to stir the pot and instead directs the player's attention to the reckless violent rationality seen in the native leader's behavior then okay nobody gets medicine this is taboo's fault he is to blame with his selfishness and favoritism if the api wants to know where their medicine has gone they need only to look at their leader through this elaborate trick the game conveys one of the most essential aspects of its imperialist rhetoric africa plus weapons equals war implying that in order to save africa we must simply get rid of the weapons like a parent taking a kitchen knife out of the hands of a clumsy child or else it'll hurt itself according to the game africa cannot be trusted with any kind of power not now not ever it is simply within the nature of these fictional native leaders to oppose and oppress their people but this approach to try and keep advanced weaponry out of the hands of local governments would forever condemn africa to some sort of eternal stone age with armies made up of spearmen a bizarre idea that only highlights the actual inevitable conclusion there will always be weapons i move weapons i profit from circulation i resell them wherever the next war is starting so some of these guns are very old they've been sold bought and sold repeatedly they're not biodegradable only the dead are biodegradable and there will always be corrupt leadership so we've got new men in office now what do you think's gonna happen you already know the whole world knows first they'll take everything they get their hands on rob the banks the stores then the mail will be lined up against the wallet shot chop children's arms off and cut the tenons in the necks and therefore there must always be war and crisis violence and tyranny are the axiom of far cry 2's depiction of african politics denying africa any kind of potential for change let alone a desirable future worth working towards it represents africa as a place trapped in time by the violent instincts of prehistoric ages this concept can also be observed in heart of darkness and is fully in accordance with the colonialist notion that africa is not subject to the progression of history i don't think a single one of them had any clear idea of time as we at the end of countless ages have they still belonged to the beginnings of time had no inherited experience to teach them as it were denying the present you say it best when you say nothing at all a profitable strategy in the video game industry is to tell stories that have all the appearance and gravitas of deep-rooted social criticism but then carry none of the actual messaging in an effort to appeal to as many customers as possible at best these games say nothing or very little at all at worst they reinforce bigoted narratives either implicitly or explicitly an ideal way of performing this feat is to do the following in order to market your story as relevant and intellectual it has to address the symptoms of some real life social power imbalance but so as to not drive away potential customers who might be in favor of maintaining that imbalance your narrative then replaces the causes behind these symptoms with an entirely fictional problem that absolves the actual profiteers of any guilt or even involvement in the case of far cry 2 the player experiences the symptoms of economic and political crisis violence and oppression but when pressed as to what caused this crisis to come about in the first place the game says well it's foreign intervention obviously okay how so well the foreigners shoot the africans anything else nope so let us look into the twisted neurotological purpose that far cry 2's mercenaries fulfill within the game's rhetoric possibly the most revealing indicator of their role in the game's preferred reading is the fact that towards the end of the story the foreign militia take over the factions so here's what it's come to me in charge of the whole operation turning them into a representation of the pure obsession with violence that the game projects on to africa now that any pretension of goodwill is gone the ideologies that the factions previously indulged in are revealed as mere propaganda and the mercenaries simply portray that cynical pure form of an amoral tyrannical governing elite that is diametrically opposed to their subjects however the mercenaries and the villainous role they occupy in the story are just a convenient fairy tale to avoid having to address the far more complex systemic oppression and exploitation that many african countries are actually suffering from the game instead implies that the foreign mercenary's recklessness is to blame for the state that according to its own rhetoric much of africa is in because the mercenaries hold power over but do not care for africa consider this example when there's a literal foreign agricultural mega-corporation in the game exploiting the country's people resources and politics the african faction leader and his mercenary aide agreed to launch a military assault on it in order to weaken not the foreign business or the systems that allow it but the other factions standing who just happened to be tasked with defending it more importantly the mercenary who appears to be the driving force behind this decision openly admits to not actually caring about the political and economic implications behind the phenomenon that sits at the core of this mission it's a model right there doing there contaminating the water the land sure whatever point is that the april's got an advantage of us in the end those presented to us as the villains in this story are the reckless and ignorant mercenary aids earning their pay for destroying the economy of a country they do not care for by the time the mission concludes the convoluted narrative has completely sidelined the obvious culprit for the economic crisis at hand and redistributed the blame from accountable real-world systems onto unaccountable fictional individuals this example perfectly encapsulates how far cry 2 actively refuses to elaborate on the neocolonialist story behind the humanitarian crisis upon the back of which it proudly markets itself when the game's own narrative threatens to address the elephant in the room it instead provides an easy non-answer to distract from the actual less convenient one the game basically says damn you got me it was the mercenaries it was their fault all along you found me out well i guess we're done here there's nothing else to look for moving swiftly on following the game's own rhetoric where any political agenda is just a disguise for tyranny any actually meaningful discussion of the ins and outs of multinational corporations and institutions exploiting africa's people and politics would mean getting lost in petty details far cry 2 much like heart of darkness discusses the effects of colonialism but refrains from discussing colonialism itself it therefore denies the circumstances around africa's very real present struggle while claiming the laurels for mentioning its symptoms the end of civilization chaos and distrust lastly both texts present africa as a space that turns one's civil friends into savage enemies the novel portrays this concept of growing discord among its pioneers by having allies scheming against one another in pursuit of wealth and reputation in ways that only the law of the land or more precisely lack thereof allows for they beguiled the time by backbiting and intriguing against each other in a foolish kind of way there was an air of plotting about that station a pestilential fellow snapping ivory from the natives we will not be free from unfair competition until one of these fellows is hanged for an example he said certainly granted the other get him hanged why not anything anything can be done in this country that's what i say nobody here you understand here can endanger your position this concept of back stabbery induced by the insanity and chaos of africa sits at the core of heart of darkness's narrative and must therefore also form the center of far cry 2's character development the game's so-called buddies as well as the faction leaders and commanders first appear to fight alongside the protagonist until we slowly come to learn that the dire situation fosters mutual distrust and that everyone essentially fights for themselves this guy he's always making deals on the side they're planning something i know it you got to kill carbinol instead he's no good he'll stab you in the back you are doing some work with bantu he didn't tell you everything i have a feeling i'm being cheated these men are taking me there so that i can see it for myself or maybe they are taking me there to kill me who knows he's going to learn that he does not want me as an enemy i thought i could trust you as a result over the course of the game the civil facade of ideals loyalty and friendship slowly crumbles away as one by one the lives of all major characters are claimed by the apparatus of their plodding and scheming against one another culminating in the final betrayal by our previous companions in conclusion both texts show a civilization that succumbs to the allure of the primitive order ceases to be relevant social hierarchies lose their meaning and nature and violence become the only authority with death as the universal truth that sits at the core of human life and as the only constant in the chaos this is the other both our deepest fears and forbidden desires made manifest something that we have learned to be appalled by but that speaks to our curiosity like no other heart of darkness famously coined the terminology for this concept the other savagery had closed round him all the mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest in the jungles in the hearts of wild men there is no initiation either into such mysteries he has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible which is also detestable the fascination of the abomination but somewhere on the way to embracing this abomination and indulging in the madness the protagonist crossed an invisible line between the civilized and the savage between humanity and in humanity a third space that marks a point of no return The Threshold [Music] he had made that last stride yet stepped over the edge while i had been permitted to draw back my hesitating foot and perhaps in this is the whole difference perhaps all the wisdom and all truth and all sincerity are just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step over the threshold of the invisible his cry was an affirmation a moral victory paid for by innumerable defeats by abominable terrors by abominable satisfactions but it was a victory both the books and the game's main character's voyage into the heart of darkness symbolizes the journey to the core of their own psyche far cry 2's protagonist and the jackal transgress the invisible line both in the form of metaphorical boundaries and spatial borders and therefore both ultimately succumb to disease and death heart of darkness is marlow on the other hand steps back at the last second as he does not commit atrocities similar to kurtz and can thus return to england while kurtz must die to better understand the concepts behind this threshold we can look at it through the lens of a psychoanalytical theory that has proven quite popular in narrative fiction which is the freudian concept of the id the id represents the primal instincts and drives of a human being such as the desire to eat to reproduce and to kill it manifests itself in emotions such as hunger lust anger and fear according to this fairly outdated by the way theory the only thing that keeps the id in check is its opposite the superego which is an amalgamation of societal taboos and restrictions that a human being internalizes through a constant pressure from parents institutions and social norms in general it manifests itself in emotions like shame and guilt between these two forces that fight for control over a person's actions sits the ego sort of a decision-making apparatus that seeks to satisfy the id within the boundaries that the superego allows for it is through these concepts that we can categorize the different steps that carry our protagonists across the threshold and that finally seal their fate initiation losing the superego right after the game's introduction we meet the jackal who is introduced as an almost divine figure whose primal wisdom allows him to take control of the chaos rather than be consumed by it he is the one pulling the strings behind war and peace in africa and the ultimate arbiter of life and death what your old clients don't seem to understand is that they can't kill me do you understand what i'm saying nobody kills me nobody i'm the one who decides who lives and who dies me this aligns with the depiction of heart of darkness's kurtz as an altogether mythical character who managed to adapt to life among the natives ending up being revered and more importantly feared by them like a literal god and whose wisdom surpasses anything that civilization could teach kurtz and the jackal also both remain mysteriously out of reach so as to remain the final destinations of marlow's and the protagonist's journeys respectively the jackal presents the protagonist's main assassination target and reaching kurtz is marlow's only objective the process of finding these two men then gradually turns from a mere order to an intimate obsession and both eventually function as an ideological anchor point for their respective pursuers while marlow over the course of the book gradually develops an apocalyptic ideology reveling in the downfall of civilization until he hears it from kurtz himself towards the end of the novel the game's protagonist is explicitly confronted with the jackals ideology right at the beginning of his journey it is in his first speech that the jackal introduces the concept of social darwinism through a quote taken from nietzsche's beyond good and evil you know there's a book i read a long time ago still think about it every day it helps me understand life out here the book talks about men and what motivates them simple really a living being seeks above all else to discharge its strength life itself is will to power nothing else matters here he lays out the belief that man has a primeval drive to assert his stance in the natural hierarchy through fear and violence it is this unfaltering belief that apparently allowed the jackal to outlast all of his adversaries and to survive in the savage environment he dwelts in which mirrors marlow's conclusions to life in africa let the fool gape and shudder the man can look on without a wink but he must at least be as much of a man as these natives he must meet that truth with his own true stuff with his own inborn strength principles principles won't do acquisitions clothes pretty rags rags that would fly off at the first good shake no you want a deliberate belief the whole idea of having to fend off africa's onslaught of insanity then leads to a much more troubling question if africa assaults human life itself what does that make the native population how are they unaffected by the madness that infects the foreigners they appear after all to embrace the conditions that their homeland offers even in the midst of total anarchy many are trapped scared of what will happen if they are caught trying to leave and there are others who have chosen to stay are they all divine beings just as kurtz and the jackal the novel offers two answers to this question one is the understanding that the natives are barely even human at all and resemble the foreigners only by the most basic definition of humanity since far cry 2 can obviously not indulge this ideology openly they opt for the alternative answer that the novel provides of course you may be too much of a fool to go wrong too dull even to know you are being assaulted by the power of darkness i take it no fool ever made a bargain for a soul with the devil the fool is too much of a fool or the devil too much of a devil everyone's trying to find a way to prevent only food both answers share a common denominator in the concept of mental capacity the core difference between western foreigners and african natives the game and novel tell us is that the westerners have developed a reliance on rational thought that makes them vulnerable to the influence of the other while the natives understanding of the world must be so far removed from ours that they could never become the target of africa's corruption in the first place the jackal's proposed ideology is therefore presented as necessary for an intelligent person to navigate the spaces of the unintelligent in order to survive the madness one must partake in the act of madness ironically though the jackals belief system that was meant to ward off the protagonist's mental deterioration instead initiates it the jackal is presented as an invulnerable legend while we as the protagonist struggle to even survive abiding by the principles of a civilized society is no longer an option we learn you're fired you know it so do i you had your shot but now it's over and since men like you only work for money you're no longer my problem you'll have to find something else to do with yourself now and so we in turn must also resort to the underlying natural hierarchy and embark on our own journey of death and violence hoping to one day match that level of invulnerability that we just witnessed our next encounter in this case a militia named carbonell emphasizes that we are in fact as of now a nobody i don't care what your name is you're just the problem right now i've got a few errands for you erin boy get on out here try not to get distracted between the door and the car you look like you're gonna drop that any second this contrast between legend and nobody sets up the next step in the ideology of natural hierarchy in the form of the game's reputation system where just like in heart of darkness our authority and power is not determined by social ranks and institutional badges but by our notoriety for the fear we are capable to instill just like kurtz in heart of darkness was able to control the natives through sheer fear and displace of brutality whatever he was he was not common he had the power to charm or frighten rudimentary souls into an aggravated witch dance in his honor as a nobody we start at the bottom of the hierarchy with no reputation to our name another soldier for hire what is a queen rate for miss another these days from there we have to work our way up to the top occupied by infamous madmen like the jackal himself higher reputation levels awarded for ruthless hit jobs and destruction result in vastly different npc responses and a new npc chatter i've been saving it for that crazy mercury's turning things up sorry man let me get out of your way additional ai behavior like soldiers fleeing and panicking just one guy right one guy and even deadlier equipment used against the player by completing missions our reputation level inevitably rises and with it the body count as the protagonist adopts the jackal's belief system his drive to kill takes over while feelings of guilt are no longer applicable where there is no civilization and no social contract there is no superego indifference surrendering the ego and then i saw this station these men strolling aimlessly about in the sunshine of the yard i asked myself sometimes what it all meant they wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence the word ivory rang in the air was whispered beside you would think they were praying to it just like ivory consumes the minds of the colonizers in the novel all that motivates far cry 2's mercenaries is diamonds they just like ivory represent the westerners distraction of the mind a fixation that not only leaves their defense open for corruption but that triggers the aggression and infighting which slowly dissolves the underpinning structures of civilization the only currency worth [ __ ] is rough diamonds don't except paper money from anybody i wouldn't wipe my ass with it this is even underlined through cases of diamonds that can be unearthed across the country always conveniently distracting the player by stopping them in their tracks with the ever-present tracker signal lighting up and alerting them of a nearby suitcase diamonds being the only currency in the game quite literally dominate all mechanics as they allow the purchasing of better more reliable and more accurate weaponry improved vehicles armor and even healing capabilities since there is no character level system in the game that might grant skills in exchange for experience diamonds are the only avenue to keep up with the increasingly tough enemy encounters and thus drive the player's actions entirely diamonds and ivory therefore also present the driving force behind the actions of the jackal in far cry 2 and his heart of darkness equivalent of curse both are fueled by greed yet neither of them amasses their wealth for any reason other than fame or rather infamy kurtz doesn't want to do anything with the ivory he manically accumulates and the jackal doesn't intend to leave the country either they only do what they're doing out of habit because they cannot escape the vicious cycle of savagery for them there is no more life outside africa worth working towards he hated all this and somehow he couldn't get away when i had a chance i begged him to try and leave while there was time i offered to go back with him and he would say yes and then he would remain go off on another ivory hunt disappear for weeks forget himself amongst these people forget himself you know to them greed was just the catalyst to the realization that there is no sense to anything in life and that no one no matter how powerful and wise they may appear is actually in control of their own lives let alone the world that surrounds them with the lack of power laid bare there is nothing left for the ego to choose between the superego or culture is irrelevant and the id or nature is outside of our control anyway as marlow comes to realize midway through the novel before i could come to any conclusion it occurred to me that my speech or my silence indeed any action of mine would be a mere futility what did it matter what anyone knew or ignored what did it matter who was manager one gets sometimes such a flash of insight the essentials of this affair lay deep under the surface beyond my reach and beyond my power of meddling the second stage of stepping over the edge thus lies in admitting one's own lack of power over the other over the course of his troubled journey into the heart of the dark continent it slowly dawns on marlowe that all the displays of order and power that he observes in his countrymen are nothing but an imperialist paper tiger and that no one can actually control the darkness not even kurtz the other is just so different the id so persistent that every attempt to rein it in must fail the novel thus presents africa as the ultimate truth the purest form of the disease that sits dormant inside the minds of every one of us and that needs to be feared and kept at bay so as to prevent it from bringing its darkness to western civilization the mind of a man is capable of anything because everything is in it all the past as well as all the future what was there after all joy fear sorrow devotion valor rage who can tell but truth truth stripped of its cloak of time in the game this feeling of futility reaches its peak at the start of act two with the protagonist's realization that he has no choice but to reignite the war with an arms shipment thereby not only failing to stop the influx of weapons the entire point of his journey but actively participating in it this event marks the climax of a slow lead up to the protagonist's surrender to the power of africa he finds himself at the helm of a mission the morality of which runs completely counter to everything he set out to do so by this point he has grown indifferent as to the morality of his actions the fate of the supposed villain or even that of his own and has given up on the perceived force of ethics and principles imagine the growing regrets the longing to escape the powerless disgust the surrender the hate the further the story progresses the clearer the self-defeating futility becomes the protagonist starts out with good and pure intentions a man with a good soul will not be denied but a good fifth gesture feeds that soul but then he rescues and helps his buddies that will later betray him you're wasting time just shoot him he made our deal he's not a part of it i'm sorry he tries to put an end to the influx of weapons ending up smuggling them himself he strives to weaken the factions by hunting down the jackal but in order to find a lead on him must work for them and thus help to destroy the very country he meant to save the protagonist slowly comes to the realization that even in the absence of the jackal the very same events still transpire in the end it doesn't matter who is faction leader it doesn't matter which faction has the power because no one is in control of anything not even the jackal when all ethical decision making appears futile there is no place for the ego to decide what is right and wrong all that matters now are natural instincts and desires the other side becoming the id on the way to kurtz marlow undergoes a voyage that threatens to shape him into the very thing he initially despised he sees his own reflection and the horrid displays of kurtz who has long succumbed to his innermost savage drives most manifest in the sacrificial heads on spikes that have been propped up around his hut these round knobs were not ornamental but symbolic food for thought and also for vultures they would have been even more impressive those heads on the stakes if their faces had not been turned to the house these effigies encapsulate the native traditions and rituals that kurtz adopted and the atrocities to which his continued presence in africa led him in the game all of these features are mirrored in the character of the jackal his clothing resembles the traditional dashiki attire portraying him as someone who to a certain degree adapted to life in africa too he learned how to think and act like the natives who also have a real soft spot for collecting the heads of their enemies tamboza had a brother and somebody just killed a man the guy who did it took a trophy to prove he did it way wants the trophy there are some sick people in this world and the jackal then merely replicates their brutality the stages of curses and the jackals corruption are also metaphorically represented by disease whereby the other quite literally takes over their bodies in the form of slow but unstoppable decay just like kurtz suffers from a slow debilitating fever the jackal likewise presumably only has three months left to live however while kurtz is fighting a tropical illness native to the land and is therefore essentially assaulted by africa itself the jackal is plagued by cancer this is repeatedly framed as a metaphorical african disease that represents africa's unstoppable corruption because the jackal himself uses it as an analogy to describe the violence and insanity in the country that he himself is part of there's a gun disease where it is a cancer you see it they can't get enough they just take and take until it kills them and once they're gone someone else takes their place in their disease too every cell is infected every cell of this cancer has to be destroyed that includes you and me if we don't finish this and the whole mission has been a waste of ours it'll start up again just like it always does the specific fact that it is brain cancer also implies an illness of the psyche a fatal mental affliction that functions as a metaphor for the madness that has befallen him far cry 2's protagonist fully resembles both kurtz and the jackal in his descent into unredeemable violence and insanity as well as his affliction with a lingering tropical disease the infamous malaria just like marlow is often reminded of the fact that he might turn into the same other that kurtz had become the game frequently points out that the jackal represents a later stage in the same corruption process that the protagonist is undergoing and that the same violent savagery observed in the jackal will inevitably befall the protagonist as well you think i don't know you which are about what you came here to do wake up i used to be you this one in particular goes even deeper immediately after this encounter the protagonists diary expresses shock and disgust at the jackal's apparent madness and the killing spree that he set out to commit but only a few hours later comes to this conclusion he's insane but he's right not only does the protagonist slowly turn into the jackal africa's nature its darkness and wilderness assimilate him as well slowly drawing the protagonist's behavior away from that of a civilized person here's a dog hungry for a boat this is most notably achieved by means of game rules and goals the game's mechanical rhetoric arguably encourages the player to mimic the behavior of a predator animal more than that of a human being let's look at some of these rules and mechanics in detail firstly the rule set around traversal of the map gradually makes the player abandon civilized norms the first thing you realize when playing the game is that civilization quickly becomes an indicator for danger since human structures imply human presence and all humans out in the wild are hostile any sign of human life automatically triggers a heightened awareness and extreme caution you start by avoiding guard posts altogether then you steer clear of any man-made structures on the roadside and soon you even try to stay off the roads as much as possible since enemy cars can pop out of seemingly nowhere as a result the player quickly internalizes that avoiding signs of human life such as roads and houses is the most effective approach to survival not unlike the instinctual behavior of a wild animal or that of a rally driver if you will 50 down concentrate the second mechanical phenomenon steering the player towards non-human behavior is combat one surefire way to get yourself killed in far cry 2 is charging enemies head on even with tactics in mind as it is incredibly risky and therefore highly discouraged by the game's rule set instead the game offers a solid stealth system that allows the player to more easily sneak up on enemies at night or by hiding in vegetation catching enemies when they're unaware or distracted in fact when remaining completely still and silent it is possible to become virtually invisible to hostile forces in addition to this the game also sports a wide range of silenced weaponry that makes it harder for enemies to triangulate the protagonist's position these range from a silenced pistol a silenced sniper rifle and a silenced smg all the way to outright comical oddities like a suppressed shotgun straight out of no country for old men these mechanics encourage an animal-like knight prowler playstyle where the protagonist takes on an almost mythical role that triggers a primal fear among the militia panicking over his actions and whereabouts as if he were not a man but a monster too quiet [Music] thirdly the game's mission and open world design motivate unfettered violence leading the player down a bloody path of increasingly brutal killing sprees and ethically more than questionable actions however the game achieves this by convincing not only the protagonist of the necessity of these actions but also the player that controls him which results in a supposedly critical rhetoric that is however virtually indistinguishable from an endorsement of the very same behavior essentially the game wants to show the player how inhuman the protagonist has become but in order to make the player steer the protagonist into committing these terrible actions the game needs to first convince the player that these inhuman actions are necessary by means of rules and since video game rules constitute the facts of their diegetic worlds excuses for mass murder are no longer excuses they are within the game's rule set legitimate reasons let's dive into some examples starting with the game's mission design typically at one of the factions you receive a mission to kill a key figure or destroy valuable infrastructure you want a job we've got one it's good assassination chief of police bam your best buddy mercenary then calls you up on the phone and invites you to discuss a more effective and manipulative approach by playing several opposing parties against one another there's a better way to get the job done you confront the target and are then often free to follow up on the original mission when all is done your buddy then calls on you to help them fend off an anticipated counter-attack or a sudden ambush this is the structure that almost every single quest rigidly follows and all of these missions are framed as necessary to get a lead on the jackal however despite the heavily implied ethical dilemma of killing in the name of peace the player is never actually confronted with the personal economic or humanitarian consequences of the actions that they make the protagonist commit and this means that within the rules of the game they are morally free to indulge in what these missions are actually meant to convey killing is fun blow the whole place up [Applause] [Music] um [Music] this is what the game wants you to feel like in its mechanics and simultaneously feel bad for in its plot the system by which the game's rule set betrays the veneer of the narrative is also perfectly encapsulated by the game's open world design everyone you encounter in the open world is by design hostile towards the player while any civilians you meet are sectioned off into areas that do not allow you to draw a weapon in the first place this portrayal of africa as deserted with barely any sign of human life just a vast hostile expanse empty and dead also echoes heart of darkness's portrayal of the continent paths paths everywhere a stampeding network of paths spreading over the empty land through long grass through burnt grass through thickets down and up chilly ravines up and down stony hills ablaze with heat and a solitude nobody not a hut the population had cleared out a long time ago however while this phenomenon does mimic the novel it also perversely creates a perfect mercenary utopia in which the most reasonable reaction to the slightest sense of danger is literally to shoot anything that moves because everything that does move is according to the game's logic out to kill you the game even makes sure to reiterate this fact to the player whenever they accept a main mission this is a classified mission that means everyone's an enemy even api nobody knows about this copy ufl guys you they'll shoot you inside you're on your own baby and so this is what you adhere to shooting everyone and everything never giving it a second thought because the game rules exempted you from that burden or as the mercenary yossim perfectly puts it she'll first ask questions later this leads us into imagery of the 2007 nissau square massacre to emphasize that through this design choice the game's mechanics establish the exact mindset that triggers the very real massacres that it decries in its narration far cry 2's open world rule set portrays a set of ideologies and conceptions that in the real world brought about the most heinous civilian atrocities committed by trigger-happy militia that were looking for any excuse to see a potential enemy in every innocent civilian around them but it does so by turning this deranged pipe dream into a reality essentially legitimizing mass murder through its mechanics while purporting to condemn it in its narrative in the world of far cry 2 every potential innocent civilian is a hostile insurgent the game therefore no longer just depicts the inner workings of reckless mercenary ideology it conveys them as appropriate one could argue that this is the game mechanic equivalent to heart of darkness's literary failure to subvert an ideology by just depicting the underlying colonialist concepts as fact rather than fiction the game even goes one step further by using this technique of universal hostility to actively motivate actions that even acknowledging the fact that the victims are hostiles are on the surface deeply unethical most notably the game distinguishes several levels of wounded states forcing the player to frequently finish off enemies that are already limping lying on the ground or even being carried to safety by an ally however beneath this horrid surface the game rules ensure that it is always in the player's best interest to do so as even heavily wounded enemies pose a significant threat again on the one hand this very successfully motivates the atrocities it needs the player to commit for the protagonist's declining character arc to progress accordingly but on the other it does so by justifying terrible actions as reasonable and necessary which contradicts the entire point of the protagonist committing unnecessary acts of aggression you look here to canalza the player always acts in self-defense and therefore experiences africa as a sandbox free from ethical inhibitions in which every human that can be killed must be killed these three branches of the game's procedural rhetoric work together to guide the player along a path that turns the protagonist into an animal in all but form in the way he moves fights and most importantly fields finally having stepped over the threshold the protagonist has become the id and given in to the desires of the other this includes adopting the jackal's coping mechanism and like him falling victim to its corruptive natural hierarchy as well as acknowledging his own and the jackal's surrender in the face of the overwhelming influence of africa subsequently the protagonist discovers that the jackal has been a red herring and ubiquitous boogeyman all along they dare to show me anger they find my others i don't know what's come over them the jackals come over there that's what i'm telling you he's up to something enough of that i don't want to hear that man's name again once the villain of the story he is now revealed as a victim and a straw man for the crisis when the actual problem supposedly lies far deeper possibly beyond anyone's understanding mirroring heart of darkness's rhetoric to the letter this portrayal exempts the agents of the story from any inherent blame it is not the jackal or the mercenaries that committed unspeakable crimes but whatever outside influence drove the perpetrators to commit them a rhetoric that blames africa itself for the actions of its invaders this then makes us wonder how does the game's narrative explain and communicate the seemingly supernatural forces that drive the humans of these stories to the brink and oftentimes beyond the threshold of inhumanity what inescapable punishment is enshrined in the very earth of africa i don't understand that dj for liberation totally mental crappies in their slaughtering civilians like they can't [Music] i think we're all screwed [Music] so Death ah my boy i say trust to this i saw him extend his arm for gesture that took in the forest the creek the mud the river a treacherous appeal to the lurking death to the hidden evil to the profound darkness of its heart the high stillness confronted these two figures with its ominous patience waiting for the passing away of a fantastic invasion in a few days the eldorado expedition went into the patient wilderness that closed upon it as the sea closes over a diver long afterwards the news came that all the donkeys were dead i know nothing as to the fate of the less valuable animals they no doubt like the rest of us found what they deserved both heart of darkness and far cry 2 portray the land itself as an antagonistic character over which its invaders have no power and which will inevitably rid itself of them opening up a twisted dichotomy of agency on the side of nature and passivity on the side of humankind civilized characters are therefore destined to perish as punishment for the naive notion they could in fact control or even manipulate the wilderness the wilderness agency heart of darkness's rainforest is presented almost as a creature in itself that lures one in but cannot be overcome and will devour anyone who enters i wondered whether the stillness on the face of the immensity looking at us to were meant as an appeal or as a menace could we handle that dumb thing or would it handle us i felt how big how confoundedly big was that thing that couldn't talk and perhaps was deaf as well what was in there africa's nature thus represents the antithesis to the enlightened subject it cannot be handled instead it handles us like the freudian id that undermines the rational ego likewise far cry 2 frequently acknowledges an invisible yet ubiquitous curse on the land that carries within it an inherent evil at times this sentiment is mocked by the game's characters but as its prophecy of death and inexplicable eternal crisis ultimately holds true so does the insinuation of a demonic presence they can't explain why people are disappearing thinner actually they can right let me guess jungle magic what the hell's going on around here maybe a dozen floats with pedophiles what do you want no way there's more to it i think that made butchers doing trying to weaken our resolve you're saying an independent merc is making parasites appear among a men it's possible you got that yeah whatever hey what's that in your head sure laugh it up you'll see the antagonism of africa's nature towards foreigners communicates a contrast between the familiarity of western society and the otherness of africans by emphasizing the uninhabitability of africa to the colonizers on the one hand and the natives connection to the very same place as a desirable homeland on the other while the game portrays african natives as merely at odds with the westerners perception of africa heart of darkness takes this concept to its necessary end point here the natives are synonymous with the jungle they are one which on the one hand underpins the supposed agency of the wilderness and on the other hand undermines the native's own agency as a mere hive mind guided by nature itself thirdly it binds the natives to the place and shows that only those birthed by the wilderness survive while outsiders cannot consider the following scene equating nature and natives suddenly a group of men appeared as though they had come up from the ground and as if by enchantment streams of human beings of naked human beings with wild glances and savage movements were poured into the clearing by the dark-faced pensive forest the stretcher shook as the bearer staggered forward and almost at the same time i noticed that the crowd of savages was vanishing without any perceptible movement of retreat as if the forest that had ejected these beings so suddenly had drawn them in again as the breath is drawn in a long aspiration this depiction of the natives as the mere personification of africa's wilderness is a final step that far cry 2 is fortunately unwilling to take when depicting the agency of nature however the game excessively indulges in the portrayal of this concept's flip side the necessary lack of agency among its human characters man lack of agency in both the novel and the game africa is presented as the deathbed of rationality the human mind becomes ever more unreliable as tools break sanity decreases and savagery takes hold heart of darkness's colonizers do not conquer africa after all africa conquers them similarly far cry 2's mechanics must therefore also convey a rhetoric that instills a constant feeling of powerlessness in the player who is regularly faced with unexpected challenges such as malaria attacks fires random encounters weapon jams and general unpredictability and chaos in combat this plethora of mechanics ensures that the player never feels fully in control of the events in the game let's examine them in reverse order while combat may appear straightforward it is a first person shooter after all it generally doesn't unfold the way the player envisioned owing to a mix of rather open level design and poor readability it is easy to lose sight of enemies making it hard to notice you're being surrounded which is usually an immediate death sentence far cry 2 breaks with traditional genre conventions by only providing the bare minimum of information and leaving the rest to luck or lack thereof the game is perfectly fine with thwarting the player's plans and letting them stumble into frequent unwinnable situations that either end in a daring escape or death sometimes both a more tangible source for disruption and frustration are the game's various tool degradation systems your first job after the game's intro for example is to repair a car in order to be able to move around it all things being constantly broken or in need of repair is in line with the concept of a world beyond a civilization where all tools cease to be trustworthy turning against their users in the most dire situations homo farber the illusion of a rational subject faces his greatest nemesis the wilderness the metaphor for the irrational where people are no longer agents but patients in the novel the steamer that marlow is in charge of repeatedly breaks down and must be repaired at one point leaving him and his crew waiting for months to receive a shipment of rivets to fix the hull while they slowly descend into madness i slapped him on the back and shouted we shall have rivets he scrambled to his feet exclaiming no rivets as though he couldn't believe his ears i don't know why we behaved like lunatics i put my finger on the side of my nose and nodded mysteriously a good for you he cried snapped his fingers above his head lifting one foot a dark figure obscured the lighted doorway of the manager's hut vanished then a second or so after the doorway itself vanished too we stopped and the silence driven away by the stamping of our feet flowed back again from the recesses of the land after all set the boilermaker in a reasonable tone why shouldn't we get the rivets why not indeed i did not know of any reason why we shouldn't they'll come in three weeks i said confidently but they didn't far cry 2 establishes this concept of the maddening failure of technology by means of two mechanics for one the player like marlow heavily relies on vehicles to move around the map vehicles that deteriorate over time going from brand new to rusty and worn which makes them more prone to defects decreasing their acceleration until they break down entirely any vehicle can be damaged in a number of ways and to varying degrees and all of them can be repaired a frustrating process that interrupts travel wastes time and exposes one to pursuers patrols and ambushes the same concept is underlined by the weapon degradation system whereby any gun decays with use leading to unpredictable weapon jams sometimes at the most inconvenient of times and after a number of shots any weapon will eventually fall apart entirely they cannot be repaired but replaced at armouries scattered across the map like stations in heart of darkness they present minuscule enclaves of civilization that allow the protagonist to restock essential supplies for his otherwise limited expeditions into the wilderness however among all the weapons and upgrades on offer at these armories and gun stores the protagonist is never allowed access to gadgetry that would trivialize the potential threats nor can he erase any threat for good the map unlike those of the sequels cannot be conquered god posts are constantly repopulated and enemy encounters only turn more dangerous the longer the playtime runs on ensuring that one unaware moment will always lead to immediate death [Music] the risk of coming across deadly encounters is also deviously heightened because fast travel is restricted to traveling between only five different bus stops per map most of which are miles away from any potential points of interest that would be relevant to many of the game's missions however no manual means of traversal is safe which is why the rarity of these fast travel points forces the player into constant risk taking even setting aside the random encounters like ambushes or patrols it is simply impossible to reach any point on the map without having to fight your way through sneak around or boat past an array of guard posts and fortresses in what can only be described as a maze of potential threats a minefield that can be set off with the slightest of missteps an even greater danger than the enemies you can see are those you can't see as many hostile forces are often concealed by their natural surroundings a phenomenon that quickly conditions the player to avoid combat in dense vegetation altogether it is not a rare occurrence to be shot at from various angles without being able to spot the attackers let alone shoot them as a result the jungle's visually obstructive environment eventually triggers a sense of constant alert in the player which in turn renders anything beyond once often rather short range of vision and therefore eventually the jungle itself a threat of its own thus granting the forest the agency that the narrative implies luckily the same game that teaches us that african nature itself presents an inherent danger also provides us with weapons to wield against it in true american fashion the answer to jungle is fire and the game does not hide its affinity to it from its intro videos to its extensive simulative programming to the tactical balancing that makes it a rather effective tool against the ai sticking with a theme of losing control however fire can easily become a trap of its own while not quite as unpredictable as in the game's sequels it is always an agent of chaos to everyone including the arsonists themselves in this capacity fire fulfills the same thematic role as malaria as it represents african nature spreads uncontrollably and kills everything it touches hey look at it lastly malaria manifests itself through bursts of dizziness and disorientation you stand the climate you outlast them all you have been well since you came out this time the who i oh like a charm like a charm but the rest oh my goodness all sick they die so quick too i haven't the time to send them out of the country it's incredible these unpredictable attacks suddenly stop the player in their tracks and can turn an encounter in the enemy's favor at the drop of a hat as the symptoms require instant medication on the spot the frequency of these malaria attacks is governed by the protagonist's current sickness level with higher levels resulting in more flare-ups progression through the stages of malaria is also tied to narrative progression if i were you i'd go buy some medicine first that malaria is nothing to screw around with get yourself healthy and come by the front office in town i'll introduce you to kakumba as a result the protagonist will always suffer from the worst kind of affliction towards the end of the story since malaria as mentioned before is merely a metaphorical corporal reflection of his mental decay into inhumanity so when the journey of his psychological corruption concludes so does the physical one incidentally the only way to prolong your life against malaria is by helping the native population flee the country by delivering them passports and receiving new medication in return thus lowering one's sickness level it is no coincidence that the medicine is first administered not by a doctor but a priest which ties the cure to malaria to the cleansing of the soul the only way to delay the progression of the disease is therefore to engage in civilized empathy or in other words rediscovering one's own humanity helps resist to succumb to the exploration of one's inhumanity on the flip side the protagonist's refusal to help the innocent refugees would inevitably lead to his untimely death or speaking metaphorically avoiding acts of humanity is tied to physical decay thus emphasizing the interconnectedness between the corruptions of mind and body with nature as the agent and man as the patient it is only a matter of time for the latter to slowly succumb to the former and in this undetectable slowness lies the key to the mercenaries and the colonizer's demise death not a state but a process the game like the novel consistently equates insanity with death but if the path to insanity is a journey rather than an event so is the path to death every aspect of far cry 2 must stress that losing one's humanity does not come about through a sudden incident that could theoretically have been prevented but through a slow and unstoppable process which is why the game also goes to great lengths to portray losing one's life as a process rather than a dichotomy only when there is a continuum between life and death and humanity and inhumanity does the narrative allow for an unfamiliar intermediate space a threshold that one can pass unknowingly mechanically this also means that death in the literal sense of game rules cannot be binary as mentioned before enemies undergo several wounded states but so does the protagonist who can also be saved by a friend on standby after merely falling unconscious upon what would otherwise have been the end likewise the same companions can be saved in the field by the protagonist if severely wounded or die permanently if not tended to malaria goes through literal stages one through five even the health bar is divided into five stages with different rules attached to them some refill on their own completely empty stages can only be healed through syringes while the more dire states deplete rather than refill and can only be mended with slow and often gruesome first aid as the protagonist finally reaches the heart of darkness both processes conclude he is no longer human and no longer willing to fight for his life the killing of africa far cry 2's journey comes to a close when both the protagonist and the jackal team up to execute what they consider the only actual solution to africa's crisis which is to give up on it entirely and put it out of its misery like a sickly and infectious animal an entire country is about to disappear they're in the way we can't do our work if they're here we have to isolate this disease so we can destroy it the game tells us that africa is destined to die and that all we can do to help is euthanize it by evacuating its civilians and murdering everyone else africa's people are patients that must be quarantined implying that they themselves carry the sickness in them and the longer you stay the deeper the virus goes in the end nobody will be left just the disease so what do you do with this particular situation quarantine the patients and even once they're gone the actual source of the disease the land itself remains according to the game's rhetoric both narratively and ludically africa is the disease and worst of all it is terminal when the process of corruption is completed and both the jackal and the protagonist have become one with africa its doom has become theirs as well the last saving grace is their agency over their own deaths which is why it is impossible for the story to conclude in any way other than suicide that got in there is a good piece never jams one shot is all you'll need you're a terminal case same as me at least we can do something about it with the synchronized deaths of the jackal the protagonist and africa itself the narrative makes good on three promises firstly it delivers the expected ironic payoff to the setup at the start of the game i'm the one who decides who lives and who dies me in the end it is the jackal himself who decides that he has to die by his own hand secondly the game's ending seals the fate of its trespassing main characters according to the rule said that it itself established all those who pass the threshold into africa's inhumanity must die lastly it not only completes the retelling of the basic story beats of heart of darkness but also signs off on its ideological messaging and conclusively closes the door on any potential for a re-reading or even parody of its source material the two main differences between the ideological conclusions of heart of darkness and far cry 2 are that on the one hand the novel features crass racist depictions of the natives themselves that the game only dares to imply while on the other far cry 2 dares to follow the novel's ideology to its necessary end point which heart of darkness couldn't bring itself to put into words but there is no subversion taking place both the game and the novel complement each other to form a clear anti-african rhetoric and even though the game first appears to be more subtle about it it makes up for its initial restraint in the outright genocidal implications of its ending it does not recommend killing all africans but it does recommend killing africa [Music] Conclusion on the ideological surface of both far cry 2 and heart of darkness lies an age-old critique of colonialism to tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe every year these medicines come into our country steal everything and they leave us nothing in referencing the novel the game had the opportunity to approach this setting from a postcolonial angle but in trying to elaborate on its narrative without understanding the underlying ideology like heart of darkness far cry 2 simply perpetuates the colonialist mindset instead of subverting it by yet again focusing on the traditional story of the corruptive other the threshold to inhumanity and inevitable death far cry 2 merely revisits the themes of the novel without widening its scope and thus falls into the very same trap of undermining its own intended reading far cry 2 just like its source material adopts africa as an exotic backdrop for the whimsical nihilism of its narrative in doing so it renders the continent as nothing more than an uncivilized primal playground inhabited by sickness madness and chaos these are embodied by africa's hostile nature which carries agency over its invaders and by the natives who are depicted as naive children without agency in dire need of foreign guidance and yet beyond any possible salvation a familiar rhetoric drawn from the very same colonialist ideology that the game purports to critique but actually just reiterates however unlike the novel which does the same far cry 2 can utilize the rhetorical powers of its medium to not only narrate the inner workings of a fictional africa as death incarnate but crucially construct a world with a hidden rule set that confirms these views and arguably teaches them far more subtly and thus effectively to the player than heart of darkness ever could it is one thing to read about africa drawing out a civilized man's innermost desires and savage instincts it is another to engage with a system that mimics the insanity and rewards acting upon the desires and instincts that it propagates far cry 2 employs its entire toolbox to convey to the player that africa punishes civility fosters savagery and ultimately brings death to any outsider who sets foot in it furthermore this already dangerously essentialist focus comes at an additional cost as the game's narrative features glaring omissions to accommodate for its messaging but paints over these gaps rather insufficiently through the fabricated central role of the private militia in far cry 2's plot the only connector between africa and anarchy that the game provides explains nothing and leaves us with the conclusion that if human greed is inevitable then so is the connection between africa and anarchy essential aspects of actual post-colonial conditions such as inherited colonial infrastructure of national institutions and systems foreign stake and interference in the political landscape and the economic influence of international financial institutions transnational companies and even former colonial powers are never meaningfully discussed in the game there are no proxy wars no puppet leaders no financial coercion no economic exploitation not even weapons or money from foreign governments just private independent mercenaries that fulfill the africans intrinsic desire for violence by virtue of failing to acknowledge the imperialist framework within which its story takes place the game frames the everlasting crisis that it portrays africa to be in as entirely self-inflicted most notably it portrays all significant ideological movements among the natives as inherently evil with the express purpose of creating a sense of hopelessness as to the fate of the continent this rhetoric lets the player come to the conclusion that the jackal was right all along attempting to remedy the symptoms of the crisis is a lost cause because africa is synonymous with the sickness itself this fictional version of africa has no future because it represents the past of humankind and if we want to move on we must abandon it all together in conclusion far cry 2 is not a game about africa it is a video game made by a western developer for a western audience about the fragility and corruption of western values that simply uses africa as a stand-in for this perceived threat to western civilization that its narrative requires of course considering the cultural context of its material choosing africa for this role does not come about by accident and conveys an essential fear of the foreign the game's post-colonial setting does allow for very few superficially subversive readings to those found in heart of darkness but the novel's core ideologies revolving around the corruption of western civilization through the african other are left untouched further research could give insight into the subsequent evolution of the series post-colonial messaging in particular with regards to far cry 5 as the first and as of now only entry in the main series to be set in a colonizer country rather than a former colony as is the case with three four and six of particular interest would be the semantics behind the ever-growing theme of drug abuse and hallucination pioneered in far cry 3 that have been a consistent staple of the franchise ever since most notably however readings by postcolonial experts from within former colonized nations would be far more insightful than my own and have the potential to actually advance the discourse rather than just use game studies to rehash western postcolonial conclusions the way i did in this video [Music] [Music] [Music] thank you so much for watching it really does mean a lot to me um let me know what you think of the format and what you would like to see me and my friend mary take on in future videos and leave a like if you enjoyed this one over the course of writing and editing it though i feel like i have to send it into madness myself so i think the next project will cover something a little less grim until then take care