When creative director Dan Hay explained his narrative vision for Far Cry 5, he described a story that would address what he perceived to be the return of the “us vs. them” mentality in the United States. By his observation, in the last decade or so of American politics, a deep division had resurfaced to create an atmosphere of fear, or as he puts it, pressure. And he wanted to make a game about it.
This perspective, one that bears the social privilege of seeing the hostility of American politics, as Waypoint reports, as an “unrealistic experience” to build a game on, may explain why Far Cry 5 is so out of touch. Is it about cults? Is it about militias? Is it about white people and Christian fundamentalism? In a way, it’s “about” all of these things, but it doesn’t offer any insight. The player is positioned, much like Hay, to feel pressure and fear from a situation they don’t understand. And they are given no opportunity to critically engage or empathize.
As a result, Far Cry 5 completely misses its chance to offer any insight into How We Got Here, perhaps even deepening that same divide between Americans that Hay speaks of. If Far Cry 5 wanted to make a comment on our current political climate, it was as easy as doing the research. An explanation can be found not in drugs or music boxes or physical torture; mind control, as a concept, is just a fancy phrase for mental abuse. White America is already equipped with the tools for spiritual coercion, and already uses them. And that fact explains more about the “sudden” rise of the alt-right and violent conservatism than initially meets the eye.