Someone Is Already Making A Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Horror Game
On January 1, Steamboat Willie, the cartoon that introduced the world to Mickey Mouse, entered the public domain, meaning the first version of Disney’s iconic mascot is (mostly) free to use by anyone. And just like when the film Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey took advantage of that whimsical character entering the public domain, someone has already started making a twisted, horrifying version of Mickey. In this case, it’s a video game.
It’s called Infestation: Origins, and it’s the debut title by Nightmare Forge Games. The game is an episodic four-player co-op survival adventure in which players control exterminators tasked with killing mutated vermin – and one of them happens to be a terrifying, person-sized monster modeled after Mickey. Similar to games like Phasmophobia and Lethal Company, you’ll rely on various tools and surveillance equipment to track the source of the infestations before neutralizing them. You’ll also have to maintain power for certain pieces of equipment while evading the giant, murderous rodents.
The game was announced on New Year’s Day but has already courted some controversy. It was originally titled Infestation 88 (as seen in the trailer) until it received blowback online for its perceived ties to Neo-Nazis (88 is a common dogwhistle), among other references in the trailer. Nightmare Forge Games quickly denied this and issued a statement to IGN saying it was unaware of the reference and apologizing for any unintentional endorsement of Neo-Nazis, explaining the title referred to the game’s late 1980s setting. The team states:
“We want to apologize for our ignorance on this topic and appreciate that it was brought to our attention so we could address it. There is no intentional use of Nazi symbolism in our game nor studio, and we'll continue to address any concerns as they arise. We strongly stand against Nazism and hate in any form."
Outlets such as Motherboard have also pointed out red flags indicating the game could be shovelware, such as its apparent use of asset flipping (via the Unity store) and AI-generated text-to-speech voice work. “As an indie studio, we do rely on some purchased assets from the Unreal and Unity stores,” Nightmare Forge Games told Motherboard. “However, there is a lot of work going into this project that we’re hopeful will be evident upon release.” The developer states the AI voiceovers in particular are placeholders and plans to hire real voice actors in the future.
Following the failure of similarly slapped together games like The Day Before, curious players should perhaps approach Infestation: Origins with some degree of caution. Infestation: Origins is coming to PC via Steam and will first launch in Early Access sometime this year.