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Video Game / You Are Empty

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You Are Empty is a post-apocalyptic First-Person Shooter set in 1955 in an alternate history Soviet Union where Joseph Stalin is still ruler. The game was released in 2006 in Russian and in 2007 in English by Atari.

The protagonist is a soldier who guards some sort of factory. When his shift ends, he gets hit by a truck and wakes up in a hospital full of homicidal and horribly-deformed nurses and patients. The protagonist leaves and then must wander through a moody soviet countryside and then city, fighting mutated and insane people and animals in order to figure out what happened. Atom Punk Soviet Superscience seems to be to blame...


You Are Empty provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital Awakening: The gameplay begins with you awakening in an abandoned hospital, where there are zombie nurses with syringes and bandaged patients with broken sticks trying to kill you.
  • Absolute Cleavage: All of the nurses have absurdly low-cut medical scrubs.
  • After the End: Soviet (and probably global) society has seemingly collapsed, despite everyone being mind-controlled by a scientist with utopian ambitions, as everyone except a few people have all become horribly mutated and/or insane. It is somewhat ambiguous how well governments and other higher authorities function, as the man in the cooperative farm tells you to go to the City Council, where you meet an official who is seemingly in complete control of the soldiers around him.
  • Airborne Mook: The electricians. Basically, they are zombies with helicopter-like blades on their back that fly, dive down and attack you with their arc welder.
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  • Alternate History: Stalin is still alive and ruling in 1955, besides all of the Atom Punk mutants running around, of course.
  • Ambiguously Human: It's unclear whether or not the paratroopers are unmutated humans, given that they don't display any obvious mutations and seem to be following the orders of the official, who's confirmed human. At the same time, their battle cries are high-pitched animalistic shrieks, though they may simply be really stressed, given the situation.
  • Angrish: The old man speaks in this, while other enemies only grumble or make pig-noises.
  • An Axe to Grind: The fireman enemy's weapon of choice is a fireaxe.
  • Animal Eyes: The relatively normal-looking peasant woman has reptilian eyes.
  • Animalistic Abomination: Half-mechanical dogs, enormous chickens and a green, fat, bloated man running on all fours and spitting toxic bile, as well as an electrified man with his limbs bent in an arachnoid position are a few of the mutants you encounter.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 2. Only a very small number of people have escaped the insanity infecting the population.
  • Apocalyptic Log: In the kolkhoz level, along the way you'd see written notes from the former owners indicating that the chickens were growing strangely quickly, and that something was wrong with them. Sure enough, near the end of the level, you have to fight van-sized chickens.
  • Art Imitates Art: The cover art copies Dmitry Moor's famous Red Army recruitment poster, except the soldier's face and hands are skeletonized.
  • Archived Army: The Red Army soldiers with skull faces are anachronistic to the game's setting, being Revolution than WW2-era, as opposed to the rest of the army-men you encounter.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Lenin Komsomol Hens, ordinary chickens transformed by Soviet Superscience into vicious giants.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: The nurse enemy attacks you with kicks, scratches, and syringes, and she abuses the patients as well.
  • Body Horror: The mental patients have one of their legs stripped down to a bloody bone with only a metal, cage-like brace keeping them upright.
  • Bookends: The last cutscene is the same as the first, only a bit faster, up to a certain point where our protagonist shoots the scientist responsible for the device that ruined the world and then gets pummeled to death by other soldiers.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Seemingly everyone besides the protagonist and four other people.
  • But Thou Must!: The final level is set up as a Two Roads Ahead Of You type of scenario, with the protagonist being given the choice by the scientist of either replacing him in being supreme ruler of the world or going back in time and Setting Right What Once Went Wrong. The player can only make the second choice, however.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Besides the protagonist and four other NPCs, everyone is insane or horribly mutated (or both).
  • Cold War: The game takes place during the Cold War in an alternate universe where Stalin still reigns in 1955 and the Soviets have managed to create a tower that can radically alter human behaviour and genome. It is implied that this effect extends to the entire globe.
  • Commie Land: Propaganda posters are suffocantly everywhere, even in the rural towns. "Totalitarianism alley" is an obvious indication of how this game tends to portray the USSR.
  • Commissar Cap: Strangely uncommon; only appears in cutscenes.
  • Cutscene: Only a few throughout the game. They are in black and white and show the evolution of a scientist from childhood up to the completion of a massive scientific project to create the new, better, Soviet man. It doesn't end well.
  • Dire Beast: The gigantic hens in the kolkhoz level have shades of this.
  • Dirty Communists: The game has, unsurprisingly, a very negative view of Communism (especially Stalinism) and its utopianism. The scientist who wished to control human behaviour and the various hostile Red Army soldiers you encounter are not portrayed sympathetically.
  • Driven to Suicide: The officialnote  building shoots himself with a pistol, having determined that there is no hope for things to get better, not before helpfully giving you a roll of film that explains everything to play at the cinema.
  • Empty Eyes: The rivet worker enemies seemingly have no pupils.
  • Evil Minions: The City Council official's paratroopers who guard him.
  • Evil Old Folks: The old man enemy grumbles and shoots you with his sawn-off.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The reason for all the mutations and insanity is a large, red star-tipped tower built to harness the scientist's Mind Manipulation powers and create the new Soviet man. It looms ominously as you approach it in the final level.
  • Fan Disservice: The game starts you off fighting nurses. Sexy nurses with long legs, miniskirts, and cleavage. Never you mind their slightly damaged faces...
  • Flies Equals Evil: The scientist liked to telepathically control flies, as an indication of his powers and intentions, and they appear very often in his cutscenes.
  • Gag Penis: The (seemingly) sane male ballet-dancer you meet in the theatre has a rather impressive bulge.
  • Gas Chamber: An empty room with a chair in the City Council building is one. It is used by the official there to knock you out, after which he calls you into his office.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The liquidators, armed with pistols, who make squealing noises.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: The (oddly infrequent) hammer-wielding worker enemy has glowing yellow eyes with no pupils and a grey, corpse-like appearance. It is unclear if they are truly undead or just near death.
  • Hammer and Sickle: While the symbol is common in the tons of propaganda posters you see through-out the game, they can also be found in the symmetrical enemies the peasant woman and the hammer worker. The peasant woman wields a sickle, is slow, and is found in the cooperative farm, while the hammer worker wields a hammer, charges you, and is found near industrial machinery.
  • Hearing Voices: In the theatre level, whispers and odd giggles can be heard.
  • Heroic Mime: Our hero never speaks, even when confronted with sane NPCs.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: After shooting the scientist and preventing the end of the world, all of the soldiers around the protagonist (unsurprisingly, given that Stalin was next to the scientist) beat him to death.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The English dub is atrocious. All of the five humans you see speaking are seemingly voiced by the same man with a British accent, and the mouth movements do not match the dubbing. The man in the kolkhoz is particularly noticeable in this.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The insane and mutated enemies you see run the gamut from normal-looking but apparently always choking men (the paratroopers), to buffer (most workers) or cadaver-like (peasant woman) humans with odd eyes, to men with rusting contraptions stapled to their bodies (electricians, patients), to almost zombies (nurses, hammer workers, Red Army soldiers), to more ogres than men.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Over ten weapons and tons of ammo do not slow our hero down one bit.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: Common. A note will tell you where to find the key to unlock the gate, so you do.
  • Mad Doctor: Mad Nurses, who have taken the responsabilities of doctors, mistreating their patients.
  • Mind-Control Conspiracy: Not a conspiracy, as that is what really happened. A brilliant but weak kid with mind control powers grew up into a brilliant scientist. Seeing a man die in a fight, he became determined to create a better man with his powers, and so persuaded Joseph Stalin to help him build a tower to which the scientist was connected, which mind controlled everyone in the world to be "better". He believes he succeeded.
  • Mind Manipulation: The scientist. He can control both animals and humans (his eyes shake violently when he does so), even managing to make Joseph Stalin fund his plans.
  • Misplaced Accent: Every NPC in the English dub speaks with a British accent.
  • Missing Reflection: A bug. Pools of water do not show our protagonist.
  • Molotov Cocktail: They even have Vyacheslav Molotov's face on their label.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: An electrified man with broken limbs resembling a spider and a bloated, fat, green, toxic vomit-spewing man that acts like a dog are the worst examples of the mutations people had to endure.
  • Mooks: The rivet worker enemies occasionally come in groups. The paratroopers are the best example, guarding the City Council building and the tower at the end.
  • Mutants: All of the enemies. Some have remained human but went insane, others have become more animalistic abominations.
  • Nail 'Em: The nailgun weapon, held by the rivet worker enemies and by the player.
  • No-Gear Level: After being gased by the official in the City Council building, all your weapons are taken away. You must slowly get them back, starting with the pistol the official shot himself with.
  • Non-Player Character: There are only four NPCs in the game: the man from the kolkhoz, the City Council building official, the male ballet dancer from the theatre, and the scientist hooked to the tower.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: The game is the epitome of this trope. Whenever it seems like you might have more than one choice (two paths, two corridors, two doors...) expect one of them to be blocked by collapsed walls and ceilings, fences, gates, locked doors and... furniture.
  • One-Man Army: The protagonist fights his way through dozens of murderous horrors entirely on his own. Made even more impressive due to the fact that he does so after waking up from a coma caused by a truck hitting him.
  • Raygun Gothic: Occasionally appears with the electric weapon and enemy and the final level. Otherwise, the game's setting is firmly grounded in reality.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Large rats often appear in undeground areas.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: The sawn-off is damn useful - for the first enemy or two. Then, the slow reload causes everybody who hasn't croaked from the first two shots to demonstrate their extreme displeasure about the player's presence by severely increasing the amount of lead in his bloodstream. The game, however, has no other shotguns, so most players prefer to use the more universal machine gun or nailgun.
  • Secondary Fire: A few weapons have one, like the one- or two-shot sawn-off.
  • Secret Test: The scientist is happy that he has created the new Soviet man; namely, the protagonist. Being perfect, he is left to choose the fate of humanity himself.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The ending involves going back to the past and killing the scientist who plans to build the mind-controlling tower. The hero dies, but history goes on as normal.
  • Shock and Awe: The late-game spider-like enemy and an electric weapon.
  • Skull for a Head: The Red Army soldiers have one, appearing on the cover. They are still susceptible to headshots.
  • Sole Survivor: Only five people in total, including the protagonist, remained alive and sane after the tower was activated. Becomes literal after the kolkhoz man and ballet dancer die and the official commits suicide.
  • Soviet Superscience: This is a Soviet-style Atom Punk story about a psi-emitter designed to create a "New Soviet Man", but it has Gone Horribly Wrong, creating insane zombies and killer Pavlov's Dogs.
  • Splash of Color: The cutscenes are in black and white, with the exception of red blood.
  • Telepathy: The scientist's power, extending from flies to Stalin himself, harnessed for the tower.
  • Unique Enemy: All firemen wield axes except a single one in the theatre who has a flamethrower.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The game heavily criticizes Societ utopianism, embodied in the mind-controlling scientist. The last level is even unsubtly called "Utopia".
  • Was Once a Man: All of the mutants, especially the vomiting dog-like one and the electrical spider-thing.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: The scientist who, after seeing a man getting beaten to death, decided to create the new Soviet man and a utopia on Earth. It did not work.
  • Who Forgot the Lights?: The game goes above and beyond the call of duty by having no lighting effects to speak of. All lighting exists within the textures.
  • Wrench Whack: The first weapon you pick up is a wrench.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: The dog-like bloated enemy pukes heavily-damaging green bile.