There's something a bit special about Blindflug's First Strike.
It's a war game with an anti-war message. It'a a war game that almost chastises you every time you wipe a nation off the face of the earth in a blast of red-hot nuclear fire.
At review, we called it "a thought provoking and fast-paced strategy game". We then added that "murdering millions with the flick of a finger in First Strike will make you laugh and cry" and promptly handed the game a Silver Award.
I got a chance to catch up with Blindflug's Moritz Gerber to talk about moral questions in games, global nuclear escalation, and how best to take out entire nations.
Pocket Gamer: First up, could you tell me what players can expect when they first play First Strike?
Moritz Gerber: Players can expect a fast-paced real-time strategy game without any save states. The player can swipe around earth with one finger and take command of a nuclear superpower.
You will have a view on to the earth that we wanted to be something precious. This emotional connection over our planet conquers the cold sci-fi-looking GUI.
One advantage of First Strike is the really simple gameplay - there are just a few actions like build, attack, research, expand, and so on. That's all you need to start a worldwide nuclear war. A little bit scary, isn't it?
There's a decidedly anti-nuclear war feeling to the game. Was this always part of the plan when you were making the game?
From the beginning, we wanted to create that feeling. When we started brainstorming about a world-spanning strategy game for tablets, we quickly realised that a full-on war would still result in global nuclear escalation.
We've all seen those astonishing videos if you search for "nuclear explosion" in YouTube. All these videos have a kind of a beauty yet are really terrifying at the same time.
That's what the end screen is all about. "You win?" and the summarised world damage. It's designed to make you think after every play.
Do you think the video game is a good medium for tackling questions about war and morality?
We're definitely of the opinion that the video game is a very strong medium for that. Blindflug wants to combine the big issues of the world with gaming, so people can participate in, and not just talk about, nuclear war.
Games let you see what happens if you launch a nuclear missile, or what happens when you hit London, for example. And that should bring people closer to these issues.
What was the toughest part of making First Strike?
There were some milestones during the project which were tough to reach.
One example is definitely the AI. The game doesn't have historically accurate military plans, but we wanted to create an AI which balances the military and the diplomatic input of each nation.
We had to make sure the game wasn't repetitive, so we used the many different confrontations you can get into.
Another big challenge was to keep the focus on our target, because the topic of the game didn't set us any borders. There could be a multiplayer mode, there could be mobile launch bases (like submarines), and much more.
Lastly, what's your best tip for anyone attempting to destroy the world for the first time in the game?
Choose your way through the tech tree carefully and try and conquer the strengths of your enemies.
There's no ultimate way to blow up Mother Earth - you always have to keep an eye on your enemies and find the best strategy against them.
I always try to overrun the world by expanding first so that I can protect those lands and force the opponent onto her knees.