Growing up as a queer kid in a rural, religious area can be a challenge. As you’re shuffled from church event to church event, it can be easy to feel stifled, especially if your folks are the evangelical type. Certain types of media can provide a momentary escape from that, such as the bombastic view into another culture that is anime, but in the end, it always seems like you lose a bit of yourself to the darkest part of a society that makes you feel like you have to hide who you really are.
We Know the Devil, a new horror visual novel starring a trio of characters clearly named after Sailor Moon’s Sailor Scouts, aims to express this feeling with a bone-chilling premise. It follows three girls who are doing their best to survive a religious summer camp as they’re forced to spend 12 hours alone in a cabin feeling out their respective queer identities and crushes for one-another while also just shooting the shit about childhood nostalgia like Sailor Moon.
With its strong female role models and explicit gay relationships (in the Japanese version, anyway), Sailor Moon has become a sort of rallying point for many young queer women of the ‘90s, telling them that young girls are capable of taking down even the toughest foes, but even Usagi Tsukino might not be enough to save our protagonists from the threat awaiting them at the end of the night.
“It’s [the game] about being weird and queer and wrong and hoping against hope no one will find out when the actual, literal devil comes for you,” We Know the Devil proclaims on its site. Though the story is designed to service all your potential OTPs (one-true-pairing, internet slang for someone’s preferred relationship amongst a certain group of fictional characters) for the main cast, it also comes with an ominous warning that once the devil arrives, someone’s not making it out fully intact. “Someone will always be left out,” the site says. “The price the two pay will be the third.”
I’m not sure I buy it. Good Sailor Scouts always stick together! Unless all our nostalgic heroes are just lies…
With photo backgrounds taken on actual disposable cameras and an ‘80s style horror synth soundtrack, the game does its best to capture the feeling of being a young girl questioning her identity in the pre-internet era. You can only deal with summer camp bullies and Jesus freaks for so long before even your nostalgia isn’t enough to save you. Can you make it through the night without losing part of your group or yourself? Will you tell your crush how you feel? And will you be able to stay with her when HE arrives?
You can find out for yourself by purchasing We Know the Devil for the cheeky price of $6.66 over on the game’s site.