Death and Taxes
Developer: Placeholder Gameworks
Publisher: Placeholder Gameworks
Genres: Simulation, Strategy
Despite looking like a management-style game and bearing many of the signature elements of such a game, the goal isn’t necessarily to follow the rules. In fact, there isn’t really a set “goal” that you’re aiming for, as bad endings can be every bit as amusing as good ones, and you’re mostly figuring out how much you can get away with before experimenting with killing and sparing people based on coin flips, the voice of Grim’s conscience that sometimes confronts you in the mirror, and whatever capricious whims strike when reading a short synopsis of a person’s life. There aren’t any bad decisions, after all: just ones that can accidentally wipe out the human race.
Death and Taxes has so much more going for it than I’ve even been able to discuss. The art style is fantastic, the voice acting is perfection, the music is brilliant, and the mechanic is sure to delight any Papers, Please fans. But what really, really stuck with me was not only how it dove deeply into existentialism in an entertaining way that didn’t get mired in the macabre, but how it quietly — so subtle, you could miss it — elevated the feel right back up at the end, aligning morals back to a human scale and setting the expectation and desire to do better.
Death and Taxes Gameplay Trailer
Death and Taxes Cinematic / Release Announcement Trailer