Your Move: Localhost

Sep 7, 2017

It’s not uncommon for video games to have the player kill robots - it's practically a trope at this point. But what is uncommon is for you to have to get the robot’s permission to kill them first - and this is the premise of the new indie game LOCALHOST.

The story takes place in the near future, with you as a new employee on your first day. You’re asked by your boss to wipe four hard drives so they can be repurposed, but each of these drives house an artificial intelligence--or AI--and you must talk to them to get them to unlock the drive to be deleted. When you boot up each AI, it loads into a robot body, and starts talking to you. The body belongs to an old AI called “Local”, which all of the AIs had different relationships with.

This game explores some pretty heavy stuff - chief of which is if AIs have the same right to live as humans do. They each have strong senses of self-preservation, and they go about it different ways - by begging, by trying to convince you that it’s really an uploaded human consciousness, or even by trying to be useful. They’re all somewhat deceptive, but they all also make very good points.

These segments are sometimes interrupted by text messages from your boss, asking what is taking so long. She tries to help by pointing out that the AIs are just code, and can’t actually “feel” anything. If you don’t wipe these hard drives, she assures you she’ll find someone who will.

The gameplay is simple - all you have to do is click on text prompts - and the game should run on just about any Windows or Mac computer. It plays like an old choose-your-own-adventure book, and there are dozens of ways, perhaps more, to reach an ending. Finishing the game only takes about half an hour, but you’ll want to play more than once to hear everything the AIs have to say… and maybe you can even save them.