Last year, Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games pulled its first-person horror game, Devotion, from Steam. At the time, it cited technical issues and claimed it was just doing another QA check. It never returned. But now it’s finally back, kinda. It’s getting a limited physical release, but only in Taiwan.
A few days before it disappeared, Devotion had been subjected to a review bombing campaign over the appearance of a Winnie the Pooh meme that mocked Chinese president Xi Jinping. Red Candle removed the meme and issued an apologetic statement, but that didn’t seem to be enough to stem the criticism from its detractors in China.
The announcement following its departure did allude to the controversy, with the studio saying it wanted to ease the pressure from the community by reviewing the game once again to make sure no “unintended materials” made it in, but there was no indication that Devotion wasn’t coming back.
Six months later, there was no word on its reappearance, and its Chinese publisher, Indievent, had its business licence revoked by the Shanghai city government. Publishing duties outside of China were handled by Taiwan-based Winking Entertainment, but it cut ties with Red Candle.
While the official documents didn’t mention Devotion specifically, Red Candle followed up the news by saying that the inclusion of the meme had “caused immeasurable harm to Red Candle Games and our partner.” It also explained that it wouldn’t be releasing Devotion in the near future, but it would reconsider a re-release if “the public would be willing to view this game rationally and allow us the opportunity to rebuild trust with our players.”
The Devotion website lists two editions of the game (cheers ResetEra), both of which are physical editions exclusive to Taiwan. It’s available now for preorder, and will be until June 15, but delivery is limited to Taiwan. In a statement on Facebook, however, Red Candle said it still receives inquiries from players all over the world and “will continue to to try various possibilities” in an effort to let more people play.
Those able to take advantage of the limited release are in for a brief but emotional game about ghosts and time travel set in 1980s Taiwan. James was able to take it for a spin before it vanished and said it “presents as familiar and predictable, but goes to unexpected places, dealing with terrors both real and imagined, and climaxes in an assembly of light and music and emotion that few horror games even try for.”