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Video Game / Neofeud

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Neofeud is a Point-and-Click Game, released on PC through Steam on 19th of September, 2017. It was developed by Silver Spook Games, but this really stands for one man, Hawaii's Christian Miller, who has done nearly everything in the game, to the point of voicing the protagonist (though not the other characters).

It is set in 2033, in a Cyberpunk future where the hyper-rich elite of the US society became completely insulated from the public opinion (in part due to literally living a world away from them inside their floating cities) and adopted the habits of the pre-revolution French aristocracy, with extremely similar dress sense, etc. and literally calling each other Neofeudals, while also being served by the robotic butlers.

In fact, there's been such an explosive growth in the number of both sentient and near-sentient machines and of the heavily gene-spliced individuals that a "Sentients" category had to be formed for them, so that social services could better deal with the large number of poorly adapted, often unemployable creations. The protagonist, Karl Carbon, is just one of these social workers. Of course, a chance altercation with a (near)-Sentient Machine soon clues him in on a powerful conspiracy amongst the Neofeudals...


Tropes present in Neofeud:

  • Artificial Limbs: The protagonist has a cyber arm. However, it is a less-glamorous version, as it's prone to glitches. Nevertheless, it does have an in-built "taser".
    • Even the actual robots suffer from this. A veteran military robot named Colonel Hendrix had his original leg shot off by a depleted uranium round, and got it replaced by a crappy, garishly mismatched equivalent instead of the original, simply due to the costs.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Weirdly, Jezebel still talks about "brainscans" and "neurons". The device is called a "quantum encephalograph".
  • Awesome McCoolname: The protagonist is named Karl Carbon.
  • Corrupt Cop: When confronting Starla over your consciousness card, you may threaten to tell the police, but she replies with "The police only follow the orders of important people like royalty and rich guys and famous actresses. And if you were important, you would have a manservant put a fresh new shirt on you after spilling coffee on it."
    • Then, the existence of Sentient Machines also brings up whole extra avenues for enterprising officers. Like, Jezebel claims that it's entirely possible for police to entrap them by planting illegal downloads onto their neural drives, and then charging them with piracy. Though, this seems to disregard that any file placed onto a digital system receives "date modified" by default, and so it should be trivial to prove that said download did not exist on the machine's neural drive until it got into an altercation with the police.
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  • Crapsack World: Just in case you had any doubts that a 2033 which has robots, cyborgs and genetically engineered humans aplenty, but is ruled by a literal neo-royals from the floating cities may not be a great place to live, one of the earliest conversations you can take part in brings up the Second Dresden Firebombing.
  • Crime After Crime: Karl first becomes complicit in a crime when he lets Jezebel use his consciousness card after she stole it from him (which she ends up not even using), obviously in violation of regulations. She then gets into an altercation with the security regardless, meaning that his involvement would get discovered imminently. Karl chooses to respond by knocking the guard out with a taser in his arm, with at least one witness. However, he chooses to describe it as self-defence, since to be fair, the guard wasn't exactly supposed to attempt to open fire at an unarmed suspect either, and Karl judges that this, combined with the guard's lack of training, will get the higher-ups to cover it up, in order to avoid embarrassment in an election year.
  • Dialogue Tree: Conversations your protagonist is involved in are done in this manner.
    • Sometimes, the dialogue options can create their own plot holes: when needing to rescue Jezebel from a security guard, the solution is to distract him, charge the taser in your arm in the meantime. He attempts to shoot Jezebel, but it doesn't work because his safety is still on, and then you shock him. This happens even if you explicitly choose to tell him the safety is on in the preceding conversation (for literally no reason), and he flicks it off.
  • Divided States of America: The game takes place in a so-called "Coastlandia", implying that the oft-discussed split between the conservative "heartland" or "flyover country" of the United States and the liberal coasts has become a done deal. However, later dialogue calls Coastlandia a "mere" City-State, as opposed to the whole strip of both coasts.
  • Fiction 500: The Neofeudals all fall into this. In an early conversation, Karl mentions "Lifestyles of the Trillionaires and Famous" magazine, and it may have been a real thing.
  • Floating Continent: The cities floating in the sky, featured prominently on the title screen and elsewhere in the game. They are composed of nothing but high-rises.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: In the Sentient Services department queue, Karl mentions that he's already surviving on "krill paste and soy-men noodles."
  • Gatling Good: The robots guarding Neofeudals are all the same size as a normal human, and yet they all carry miniguns. Weirdly, they don't seem to have ammo belts, or really anywhere to store ammo. Moreover, guarding ridiculously rich and important VIPs with notoriously inaccurate rapid-fire weapons is an idiocy in a class of its own.
  • Great Offscreen War: An early optional conversation brings you face to face with Corporal Hendrix, a robot veteran of the "Second Dresden Firebombing", who visits Sentient Services for the sake of the "PTSD therapy credits".
  • Half-Human Hybrid: There's a bunch of these present as a result of genetic engineering. It's gotten to the point that a person only needs 90% human DNA to use human-only queues, etc., whereas those with greater non-human percentages are lumped in with the robotic "sentients".
    • One of the earliest examples you encounter is a young girl named Starla, who has a unicorn-style horn and tentacles instead of arms.
  • Idiot Ball: Even though Karl Carbon works at the Department of Sentient Services, he still lets Jezebel use his consciousness card without bothering to ask where she lives, when he should know that this question would come up when she applies for benefits regardless. As it is, she gets disqualified due to lack of legal residence anyway, and is immediately forced to take the Goertzel-Takeda test regardless, (barely) fails, and gets into an altercation with the security that forces him to tase the guard, else she would've gotten shot and his complicity in identity fraud discovered.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Karl Carbon begins the game stuck in a traffic jam, and after honking in vain, he sighs "Jesus, weren't we supposed to have the goddamn flying cars by now?". Then, one comes by them and he bitterly comments "Oh, right. Too bad I wasn't born with a silver spoon up my ass."
  • Membership Token: Receiving benefits at the Sentient Services department requires one to present a "consciousness card". The game begins with Karl losing his consciousness card in a queue, and him eventually saying that he'll be fired without it. The next scene then has another social worker say that humans are (obviously) treated as sentient by default and so don't have to take consciousness tests like the Sentient Machines, meaning that there is no reason for a human to have such a card in the first place, let alone for it to be so important for one's benefits and employment.
    • Similarly, it's unclear how Karl's consciousness card would have helped Jezebel, the machine that steals it, in the first place: do these cards not have names and photos of their owners at all, or state whether their owner is a biological human or not, which would immediately put paid to such attempts? Moreover, the card does not even come up in the actual conversation at Sentient Services desk, and Jezebel ends up taking the Goertzel-Takeda test that identifies her as 3.9 on the consciousness scale (i.e. borderline between human and high-level animal sentience, and not enough to qualify for Sentient Services benefits) regardless. Granted, it's plausible that someone with a (slightly) sub-human sentience may not have foreseen that: however, it's inexplicable how Karl, who is both a human and a Sentient Services worker who should know the system inside out, failed to foresee such an obvious obstacle.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Two of the most important Neofeudal royals are Warren and Sybil "Clington-Busch". Another one, a General, is Walker "Coch-Jobbs".
  • Obviously Evil: The game opens with an ominous conversation between powerful Neofeudals, where we don't even know their names yet. Still, a person later introduced as Walker Coch-Jobbbs discusses "tight leashes" and "discreet disposing of the Defectives" with his first line, while Warren Clington-Busch chimes in with his thoughts on how "moths (drawn to the Singularity) must be burned" and "there are no errors in paradise".
  • Off-Model: The game uses collage-style graphics, and it often leads to really inconsistent scenes, where characters may stand to each other and yet some would have sharper facial features and others half-blurry, while the conventional black suits of the (human) bodyguards often look much more vivid than the strangely faded dresses of the Neofeudals, as there's no way to consistently light these.
    • The character busts during the conversations get a shorter end of the stick. They are often completely flat, with no visible depth, and have inconsistent black shading around their hair, with Sybil Clington-Busch getting it particularly bad. The lack of animation is not very significant by comparison.
  • Operation: [Blank]: The Second Dresden firebombing was officially referred to as "Operation Screaming Talon".
  • Police Brutality: When confronting Jezebel over your stolen consciousness card, you can ask for a security guard to get involved and say that because Sentient Machines do not have Fourth Amendment rights, he can search and seize at his leisure. He immediately takes it as a license to request permission for lethal force, and then points a gun at her face and states she has "a right to trial by firing squad." However, Karl notes that this officer probably didn't receive a proper "use-of-force" training due to budget cuts.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The robots in the setting don't look all too human, usually being absolutely unpainted with fully exposed metal frames. Even though, they have the kind of intelligence that would often go counter to the supposed aims of the creators. For instance, the X-800 robotic soldiers had sufficiently human-like intelligence for the survivors to not only consider themselves veterans, but to feel PTSD.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: You can encounter one early on, who receives PTSD therapy credits due to having taken part in the Second Dresden firebombing. Notably, said veteran is a robot, who wears hippy-style beads and peace symbols next to his dog tags.
  • Shout-Out: Karl Carbon is introduced with a close-up on his mouth as he smokes, and holds a cigarette with his robotic hand - just like Adam Jensen. However, this moment is played for laughs, as the cigarette suddenly beeps and Karl is notified that he's reached his daily maximum nicotine intake. Moreover, once he parks his car, it begins glitching out, and he says that's far from the only such occurrence he had, but is too busy to fix it now. Another glitch also leads to his "consciousness card" falling out from his wallet and getting lost in a queue.
    • Then, when he talks to a (robot) Corporal Hendrix in a Sentient Services queue, one of the dialogue options is to say "Hasta la Vista, baby!" Moreover, his model type is actually named X-800.
    • The bizarrely genetically modified Starla wears a shirt that clearly has Pinkie Pie depicted on it.
    • Karl compares the Sentient Services security guard to John Wayne the first time he showcases his gung-ho approach. The next time, however, he oddly compares him to Maximus Herzenegger.
    • When Warren Clington-Busch describes the Singularity as a Kingdom of Heaven that opens once to the chosen, Sybil instead worries that they may be like "Prometheus, moths to the flame."
    • Another of the Neofeudals literally quotes Cersei: "When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die."
  • SkeleBot 9000 / Tin-Can Robot: Downplayed with the robots who guard Neofeudals - they have a clearly humanoid shape, and are completely solid, with no bone-like gaps, but also have heads clearly styled to look like skulls and are completely unpainted metal, which is at great contrast with the refined nature of the Neofeudals themselves. Granted, it's strongly implied this is all for the sake of intimidation.
  • The Singularity: The game begins right as Neofeudals say one is imminent. However, they only seem to think of it in terms of the formation of a "post-human species", fretting that "Singularity happens but once. The kingdom of Heaven open for an instant, for the chosen" and "We won't get another chance to ascend", thus treating it as a one-off event, when the original definition is that of a continually accelerating innovation wave that doesn't shut off once started.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The game was released in 2017 and is set in 2033: i.e. 15 years into the future. It envisions that this is enough time for: a) hovercraft to exist and be ubiquitous amongst the rich; b) the liberal "Coastlandia" of the United States to fully split from the conservative heartland; c) the tech elite of the Coastlandia to become so rich they literally call themselves Neofeudals and crown each other; d) said neofeudals to build outright floating cities; e) fully sentient AI to not only exist, but be numerous enough for the Human Services department to be renamed into the Sentient Services one; f) time travel machines exist as well.
    • However, there are plenty of Zeerust elements there, too: for instance, the "Smoking limit reached!" message on the cigarettes is styled exactly as the Windows 95 warning messages, and not at all like the sleeker smartphone push notifications of today. The main theme, and some other music, features old-school dial-up modem noises. His own robot hand has Game Boy-like control panel.
  • Used Future: In spite of such fast technological development, the world is still full of the less-glamorous elements of today. On the motorway, the signs show directions to places like Fulcrum Aerospace port...and to a whole block of Section 9 housing. The first thing the protagonist does after getting out of a car is to get into a queue for benefits at the Coastlandia Department for Sentient Services, as it now pays them out to unemployed robots and hybrids as well as the regular humans.