Spec Ops: The Line was one of our favorite games at PAX East back in April, and we even got a chance to get away from all the hustle and bustle and have a lengthy chat about the game's story with its lead writer, Walt Williams.
After playing the game for almost an hour and speaking with Williams, it was abundantly clear that The Line is not your typical war game. It's set in Dubai six months after a massive sandstorm, and three US soldiers (Walker, Lugo, Adams) are sent into the ruins to evacuate a soldier named John Konrad, who it turns out doesn't exactly need extraction.
Riffing off of Joseph Konrad's novel Heart of Darkness (or if you prefer, the Vietnam film inspired by it, Apocalypse Now), Spec Ops: The Line is going to ask a lot of players, and it's not going to give them much hope in return.
That's exactly what we talked about in this new interview with the game's senior producer, Denby Grace.
Complex: Tell me about the choices players will be making in Spec Ops: The Line.
Denby Grace: Ultimately the big push is on you as the player in sort of creating an emotional moment that maybe tweaks you in some way. So allowing you to sort of make a choice—or pushing you to make a choice actually is better—none of the key moments that we have in the game are actually nice moments. They're kind of choosing between something that's bad or something that's probably worse. The easiest way is probably for me to give you a couple of examples.
One of the examples that you encounter at one moment is you're walking down this sort of destroyed freeway and there's these two guys hanging from an overpass or signage. They're hung, basically, from their hands. So they're strung up, they're alive, and Konrad, over the voiceover radio says, "Hey, Walker, you have to choose who lives and who dies in this moment."
The guy on the right, he stole water, which basically under the martial law in Dubai at this moment in time is a crime. It's a big, really heinous crime because water is really, really scarce. The guy on the left is a soldier from the 33rd, and he was actually sent to reprimand this guy. Now this soldier turned up and murdered this guy's entire family.
The way Konrad frames it is he's like, "Look, I'm forced to make these sorts of choices every day." This is like, you're in. It's sort of like this situation is not nice, it's not good, but you have to choose one guy. Who lives? Who dies? There's like four different outcomes from this moment. You can shoot one guy, you can shoot the other guy, you can shoot both guys. Or you can take—on the sides of the freeway are a bunch of snipers basically. So you're made to—the snipers are targeting the guys that are hung as well. So you're told to make a choice.
It's a really hard situation, but ultimately it's winnable.