Preview: Serial Killer Roguelike

By: Derek Yu

On: August 26th, 2010

Update: The creator of this project has announced that it was an elaborate “hoax”. Not sure I buy that, but… in any case, you can read more about it here.

As GameSetWatch’s Eric Caoili deftly points out, someone’s gone and started working on an actual murder simulator. CrimsonKing’s Serial Killer Roguelike was originally themed after the popular HBO Showtime series Dexter, but has since turned into a more general killing game, with detailed combat that’s inspired by Dwarf Fortress. The goal is to develop the game into a full-blown crime sim that characters can (virtually) stalk their prey in (or not, as the creator notes), either as lone wack-jobs or as hitmen for organized crime factions.

In the description of the above video, CrimsonKing writes:

Keep in mind that this is a GAME, and that I am not advocating or condoning murder or any of the crimes that take place in it. I feel that the subject of serial killers, specifically the psychological conditions that drive them to do what they do, is one of interest and will hopefully translate into a unique game that has a vast number of potential options for play.

Well, what’s art and entertainment good for, if not exploring these darker themes? Personally, I think the game shows a lot of promise as a genuinely disturbing horror movie generator. But will it see a release before a U.S. senator decides to stir up some outrage over it? It is an election year, after all…

(Source: TinyCartridge)

Hit the jump for a video showing the character generation:

  • kowalski

    Despite what may think of the content, it sounds interesting to play. I frankly really dig the violent, seedy games that let people do things they would never do in real life. Why else does a game like Manhunt exist? I'm adult enough to know its a damn game, and will probably treat it as such. (Collecting body parts as if they were Nuka Cola in Fallout 3 for example, its all a game to me)

    It's already going to find a limited audience since its a rogue like, and if this explodes in the news/media, I'll be damn surprised.

  • tung

    A fascinating exploration of a confronting topic. It should be interesting to see how this turns out.

  • Dskjdkff

    uh, I don't feel alright playing this, I'm not that fucked up. I'll pass, thank youuuu

  • WhippedCarrot

    Oh wow. I had a very very very similiar for a game like this, except his execution is way better. A Roguelike is a great idea because the turn/frozen-time element gives you the ability to make calculated choices about each murder.


  • Nomail


  • bombboy

    Holy SHIT this is CREEPY AS SHIT

    I like it! I also dislike it. But it looks cool.

  • Xeno

    Looks interesting – looking forward to it.
    Long live the roguelikes!

  • SSss

    Well, what’s art and entertainment good for, if not exploring KILLING PEOPLE?

  • DCSSfan

    I'm intrigued.

  • TCM

    After death, there should be a police/news report summary of your, your crimes, etc. Interviews with the family of the victims and such as well. It looks like a game that can make people very uncomfortable playing it, and I actually encourage that quality.

  • Bignelson

    Dexter is a Showtime series, not a HBO series.

  • defacid

    That is so awesome… I want to play it so bad. So bad. SO BAD. :P

    I like the vigilante cannibal combo. I would have chosen the same. Either that or blood drinker.

  • zeekthegeek

    I cannot wait to wear a skincoat made from chubby girls I kept in my basement, and dance around listening to Goodbye Horses

  • Fake

    Roguelike graphics aren't good enough to cause an outrage, thankfully.

  • Lim-Dul

    This is actually both disturbing and very interesting at the same time.

  • Bleh

    Couldn't You find another more disgusting theme? What will be the sequel? Serial Raper? Sick. What a pity for a good gameplay design.

    @defacid: search for an specialist

  • DrOctapu

    I like the nuka cola idea. Hopefully we'll be able to get some quests from a mafia boss or something, to give the game more of an objective.

  • Disgusted

    GO away Bleh. no one is telling yo to play it.

    Geez it's whiners like you is why the higer rated games aren't what they used to be years ago(THe modern ones are severy tonned down).

    TO CK: keep at it! don't be afraid to make games like's always good to be able to show thay you are able to make neat games from both distubing/undistubing conent. Remember w'ere adult we have the power to choose( if not well…hmm).

  • Anonymous

    If you want to lessen the impact, consider adding options for fantasy elements, old time settings like medieval times or to play as fantasy monsters.

    If you want to play it safe, consider adding a long, detailed warning in front of the game. Though anyone that would consider using it as practice for actual murders would perhaps ignore it anyway, but it's a good courtesy regardless.

    It's kind of strange the effect something like this can have on even a healthy person, I remember getting into a weird funk after completing the assassin side quests in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. When I was done I felt the need to restore a save game to before I even joined the Assassin's Guild.

    Anyway, hoping this doesn't cause too much drama for the creator.

  • Disgusted

    There's nothing that can be done about that on the effects bit. No matter what media it is someone going to get worped by it. hell it wouldn't be a surpise that someone starts beating people up over a heart shaped object. That;s just life.

    A disclaimer would work I believe.

  • Disgusting

    yes, someone objecting to a literal murder simulator is responsible for the state of video games today.

  • Consumatopia

    If you download and play this game, and someone close to you is murdered, and your computer is searched, you will be a suspect.

    Other than that, this game looks great.

  • Lega

    This game looks really cool. Just from the gameplay video the amount of detail included is amazing; sneaking into a house, chopping your victim up, running from the cops, etc. Of course it is very mature subject matter but I enjoy games that provide a different point of view, even if that view is extremely despicable and evil. I can't wait for this game to come out! Hopefully the developers make it detailed and random enough for many different situations to develop.

  • Blegh

    This will work on linux right? It has been too long since I had a decent indie game.

  • bleh

    Sir. Yes sir!
    And thank you very much to consider me so powerful over the game industry. Not bad for a “whiner” :)

  • Cow

    This looks very very fun. Incredible gameplay design if it lives up to that video. Consider me excited.

  • Red

    amazing idea and amazing detailed .. its a shame that when I create a game about (serial)killing, I have to apology to the world for everything, so people would not make the prime evil in their comments ..
    love this ..

  • PhasmaFelis

    This looks like a very well-designed game that I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in playing.

    This is an odd feeling, sort of seeing a beautiful, finely-crafted 14-inch dildo.

  • Nty

    wow, i wanna have a go i wanna

  • Lekon

    It's so rare to see a game so far out of left field, that looks like a real joy to play. I imagine challenge runs with being as crazy as possible and still trying to “win” would get quite odd.

    Hope the dev sticks with this one, it could be a blast to play, even if it does seem disturbing. Mixing in fantasy elements later could be pretty awesome. Or even Sci Fi, be a body snatcher for real!

  • defacid

    I like the fact that because I want to play this game I need a specialist. :D


    I like how it's okay to kill imaginary things in video games, but killing a human is terrible. How many people protested hacking the mutated aliens in Dead Space? They were just trying to eat some food, man. :/

  • Infinite Blank

    I'm throwing in with the people excited about this little abomination. If the 'evading the law' system is well-done, dodging police and hiding evidence could potentially be the real meat of the gameplay, and I'm rather excited at that idea.

    I've also got an urge to try playing a perfectly ordinary (non-murdering) person and seeing what happens. If I do, and I get into a relatively innocuous fist-fight on the street or some such, will the game's characters assume I'm trying to kill someone?

  • Kenzya

    I think it's important for people who feel like this is a sick and disgusting game that they click on the “Serial Killer Roguelike” link and read what is planned for that game. It seems like it's going to be more of a GTA style sandbox game where you can be a vigilante killing innocents, criminals, cops, and whatever OR join the police force to stop criminals or a criminal faction to kill police or what have you. Maybe the player could even mix it up and join the police force as a cover and be a serial killer at night. He also wants to add a job system so the player can earn money to buy things other than weapons like real estate.

    The only issue I can see is with the scope of the game. It seems like a large undertaking. There has to be hundreds of ideas to implement.

  • The Cheshire Cat

    It's interesting how much context can change how people react to content in games. You can do far worse things with much greater graphical detail to people in lots of mainstream titles, but because you aren't explicitly being referred to as a murderer in those games, it's somehow not as bad. Bear in mind that in your average shooter you rack up a body count that even the most prolific serial killer could never hope to match. It's not all combatants or other people who “deserve” it, either; as people have mentioned, you tend to mow down quite a few civilians in the GTA style games.

    What people need to realize is that killing someone in a video game is no more immoral than punching a mannequin. Just because it superficially resembles a human doesn't make it morally equivalent to a human. It's all just little bits of data in a computer designed to react to specific inputs with specific outputs.

    Anyway, I got a bit sidetracked there, but I originally meant to post that the concept reminds me a lot of Liberal Crime Squad, which is a very tongue in cheek terrorism simulator (it was a side project by Dwarf Fortress's Tarn Adams, who released it as open source and it's being continued by someone else now). It's just so extreme that it just becomes impossible to take seriously and comes off as kind of silly (though in a way that's intentional).

  • Karma Police


    I felt bad and became very sad after watching this.
    What will next version have? Raping is a given, I guess, since serial killers are sad pussies, whose social issues prevents them getting some otherwise. How about child murder!?!? If that comes, I hope you will get sectioning.

  • Gaskone

    I, as someone who works in psychology, have to speak my mind. Only two words come to them.

    FRIGGIN…. Awesome.

    Games are games. I am an AVID gamer, and really, all the talk of people becming violent over games is most likely bunk, as someone who uses a video game as a catalyst to violent behavior will almost always use tv, their parents, other people, or whatever else they see as a catalyst. The reason video games get thrashed is because people think that because we enact the violence on the screen itself, we will be more prone to thinking that it is going to affect us in real life. As someone who played LOADS of mario, I can give you my word of honor that not once have I ever smashed my head on a block, expecting a fire flower to come out, or have I ever stepped on turtles expecting points to come out. Same basic premise here people, theres no reason to be alarmed, and I for one am going to donate money to this guy, as he is making a very very neat niche game that satisfies that darker sense of humor I have.

  • zeekthegeek

    I think Crimson King is american so there is no legal recourse for making a video game, which is legally covered under the First Amendment as an expression of Speech.

    And he has stated he is actually against rape being in his game, the man deifnitely has morals.

  • Dodger

    Violence has been around in movies and video games for quite some time now, however the graphic nature of violent video games has changed dramatically over the past decade. It's not a matter of whether a game is too violent or the subject matter is too controversial, it comes down to who is and who should be playing these types of video games? Can anyone get their hands on them?

    I don't really care about the subject matter in video games as long as they're aimed at the appropriate age group. I play a lot of violent video games (God of War, Gears of War, GTA series, Call of Duty, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, etc. etc.) I really don't care whether a game is violent or not, what I do care about is who gets their hands on them. I'm an advocate for creative freedom in video games, however, I'm also an advocate trying to limit the access of violent and / or disturbing video games and keeping them away from children. As an adult I'm able to decide for myself what I want to play and what I enjoy in a game, however, my children aren't old enough to decide what's best for them. I really don't know at what age disturbing content could be or should be both acceptable and available, but I do believe that young people between the ages of 12 – 16 cannot properly handle or process the disturbing elements in video games. I think this is especially evident when playing online shooters where the lines between age ranges seem to be totally blurred. Personally I love jumping into Modern Warfare 2 online occasionally to have a few matches and I've noticed that there are far more young kids playing online (and using headsets – with no lack of profanity and much lack of respect for other players). I don't know who the parents are that are letting their kids play these games, but because of the current state of “online” gaming, I truly believe that video games should not only be rated (so that they can also be enjoyed properly by adults) but the law should also be involved and enforced in making sure that games made for Mature audiences aren't sold to minors, not just in one state or district, but in all states and countries. Young audiences don't need games to be violent to be fun. I know this for a fact because I was a kid once and video games rarely got more violent than Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi, and (insert your favorite 80's – 90's game here). Splatterhouse was about as violent as mainstream console games got (in terms of grotesque horror), and in all honesty, the series never really made for that memorable of an experience though.

    To me, the serial killer roguelike really is no different from the Splatterhouse series. To me it's another game that's simply taking controversial subject matter and trying to put a roguelike spin on it. I really see nothing wrong with it, but back to my main point, I don't believe the content is for younger audiences – which is probably evident by some of the immature comments made by some people. Lets be honest, the mature teenagers are few and far between and they usually make up part of a niche themselves, but for the most part the average teenager is immature, sexually repressed and confused (which is enough in itself to signal an alert that young people who fall into this category cannot and should not handle this kind of material), and they can rarely make appropriate decisions for themselves, especially when it comes to thoughtfulness and understanding.

    So I don't believe that just because a game is violent or contains controversial subject matter that it should be banned, I do believe however, that entertainment this type of entertainment should be limited to young audiences. There really is only one way of doing this when it comes to the PC and that means that the parents have to monitor their kids while they're using the PC, plain and simple. I will also be fair, adults are far from perfect and there are plenty of messed up adults out in the world, but the real issue is kids (yes, even young teens up to 15) cannot properly decide for themselves, so hopefully most families have a parent or two that care enough about their kids and young teens to monitor what is going on around their kids and into their young minds. Better to teach them properly first so that when they do participate in something fictitious, they appreciate it for exactly what it is. It's a tough job parents have and not a time to be lazy or complacent even though they think their kids are all grown up because they've got hair on their legs or wear make-up. It's a hard job, but it's a necessary one to promote, teach, and practice healthy habits BEFORE allowing them to do the things that they want to do. At least then there can be some sort of confidence and hope within the family that when their sons and daughters are old enough to enjoy mature entertainment such as violent video games they can be more at ease knowing that they've taught their kids the difference between fact, fantasy and fiction, which also encourages thoughtful thinking on the sons or daughters part which also helps instill a certain amount of self respect.

  • Vania

    Such poor imagination…

    I suggest being able to cut someone's limb and then cauterize to keep him alive.
    Being able to buy a home and keep someone in a pit…
    Maybe even build complex torture mechanisms like jigsaw!

    So many fun possibilities!

  • Al3xand3r

    A roguelike that does stealth gameplay better than actual stealth games? Want. It should also be somewhat simpler than usual to play, right? Having sort of logical rules and not arbitary rpg skills and levels? Though I suppose you still level your sneaking and what not?

    I hope he adds modes that restrict gameplay in order to make a more compelling experience, as opposed to the often wide open nature of roguelikes.

    For example, what if your character has to keep a job (simplified, just something you need to spend a few turns on, not to actually do some complex work, and it could be day job or night shift depending on your character's needs) to earn money and pay rent for an appartment, pay for the tools needed for this “hobby”, have the need to eat and sleep, and so on and so forth.

    That could lead to interesting situations like a murder that takes longer than usual due to a mishandled plan means you have less time to cover your tracks before needing to go to work (or people get suspicious) or to your home to sleep (or you fall asleep at work, making people suspicious) etc. Which means that you leave more evidence behind as you hurry (for example, you don't clean your shoes too well and leave a blood trail to your house that the cops depending on their awareness may or may not notice, or perhaps to not do that, instead of clean them, you take them off and leave them at the scene, which could somehow be connected to you, for example if some neighbour sees you get in your house barefoot if he's not sleeping).

    And the various traits you can choose would mean you get bonuses or negatives to such situations. A cannibal doesn't need to waste turns to go buy food for example (as long as he kills often enough), whle other characters need that every so often.

  • Devarnodick

    In almost every video game ever you are a serial killer. Mario mercilessly murdered hundreds of mushroom men and duck things by stomping their brains into paste. The only difference is that in Serial Killer Roguelike they CALL you a serial killer.

  • Guest

    I think it's comments like this that make people react poorly to these sort of ideas. It's not really helpful.

  • Karma Police

    When the FAMILY EXPANSION comes!!! What about some child molesting!!!! And whos up for some child mutilating!?!? How about this: Serve parents some children -soup, made from their own heirs!!! Thats recycling at its best. Let them produce their own food.

  • Gaskone

    When I was a kid and played Ultima 6 I did just that, I remember chopping up the kings wife or something and putting herlegs into a large soup vat, hahahah. Fun times, Ive onl ever killed four people so you cant blame video games!

  • gugu

    after reading a few comments (specifically a comment about the author not wanting to include rape due to moral reasons) i got increasingly disturbed thinking about what the author wants to portray.

    when watching the video i was impressed and excited, i've always been fascinated but equally appalled by serial killers and their actions. we're constantly being fed more and more violence in different forms of media, to say that we're not becoming more desensitized would be utter fallacy.
    if you censor yourself or let your morals come in the way you are only assisting in coating yet another violent theme in sugar. adding something like rape doesn't mean that it needs to be descriptive and detailed, but it is a valid component in a game about individuals whose crimes are often sexual in nature.

    i found music on the title screen and the particle blood effects in the game to be completely unnecessary (i'm guessing that's the only particle effect in the game; maybe a few blood tiles would suffice?), it only helps in glamorizing the actual killing.

    i could go on for a long rant about this but i don't have the energy. i'd like for the author to think hard about what kind of feeling he would like to give the player after committing a murder, though.

  • gugu

    accidentally liked this when wanting to write a reply. there should be a dislike button for those of us with a happy trigger finger.

  • Karma Police

    ehhh..If you could chose, would you rather be mutilated and killed, instead of raping?

    Definately no morals, what so ever.

    The sneaking and escaping cops is very intriguing, something I have always dreamed about, but the context SHOULD(or must) be different. You absolutely could make this game so, that you COULD do all things explained in that video, but would not the purpose of the game, and the player would have to make the moral choices him self. For example, the player could be a thief, who sneaks into houses and is driven into solving insidious conspiracy of greedy politics.

  • bradf

    If you don't like the idea, just don't play it.
    It looks like a fun, gross and disturbing game and I look forward to playing it. Playing the villian, or putting yourself in a monster's shoes is always interesting and fun.

  • Guest

    I've taken billions of virtual lives in games, and been exposed to who knows how many other fictional deaths in other media, but I think it is difficult to be truly desensitized to violence. For one thing, media depictions of violence are either so sanitized you eventually don't feel anything for what you know to be, for example, a performance by an actor, or so over the top that it's actually absurd. If any of you think you are desensitized to violence, go try to watch the 3Guys1Hammer video. I didn't watch more than a few minutes of it. Watching something like that, you'll feel powerful emotions no fictional work can truly reproduce. (Warning for the curious and squeamish: it is a recording of the extremely brutal torturing and killing of one of the victims from the real life serial killers known as the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs. On the one hand I want to warn people away from watching something like that, but on the other hand, I think people, especially those so interested in a game like this, need to see this to truly understand, among other things, what goes on in the world they live in, what people are capable of doing to one another, and what a real murder looks like).

  • Karma Police

    If you like the idea, talk to some one and take some medication.

    I'm all for freedom of speech, which this game is not about. This kind of immorality is contagious and ultimately dangerous as media all over the place is one piece at a time going more and more brutal, which affects the mind of society.

    About the talk about someone defending the developer of this game, because he was leaving raping away, because morality issues: If you could chose, would you rather be mutilated and killed, instead of raping? Which one fate would you chose for your children and family?

    Definately no morals, what so ever. This is pure evil and worst case of attention whoring, that I have ever seen! You will get attention, and I guess you can benefit from it in some way, and that is disgusting. You will also make another stain in my hobby, that is already talked in bad way in media.

    The sneaking and escaping cops is very intriguing, something I have always dreamed about in games, but the context SHOULD(or must) be different. NOT THIS EVIL and SICK! You absolutely could make this game so, that you COULD do all things explained in that video, but would not the purpose of the game, and the player would have to make the moral choices him self. For example, the player could be a thief, who sneaks into houses and is driven into solving insidious conspiracy of greedy politics.

    Make options for the people, who gets a boner for this kind of game, to get into therapy, and also get some therapy yourself, while making it.