Finns develop a game about Ukrainian drone operator fighting against Russian invaders

The Finnish game studio Rockodile Games, supported by the German publisher Lesser Evil, is developing Death from Above, a game about a Ukrainian drone operator fighting against Russian invaders. To scale the project, the developers launched a campaign on Kickstarter and have already raised more than $28,000. AIN.Capital shares details about the game, its authors, and the idea behind the project.

About the game

Death From Above is an arcade-style drone simulator game set during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Rockodile Games is developing the game together with the Ukrainian Octobear Knight Games. The publisher and producer is Germany’s Lesser Evil, the founder of which Hendrik Lesser is the head of the project. In the process, the developers consult with Ukrainian military and technological organizations (Aerozvidka, GIS ARTA), as well as with Ukrainian artists and musicians.

“We want to help people affected by Russian aggression. That’s why we will cooperate with Ukrainian artists and use their work in our game,” explained Hendrik Lesser, Founder of Lesser Evil.

You will play as a Ukrainian military drone operator fighting against the occupiers, collecting valuable equipment, and restoring communication lines disrupted by the war. You will also be dropping grenades on Russian tanks and soldiers. The game also has a comic mission in which your task is to recover the washing machines stolen by the Russians.

“You can collect washing machines. Some Russians are stealing everything. It’s pretty bizarre,” Lesser comments.

Death From Above will be released on Steam in Early Access in the second quarter of 2023. After the release, 30% of the sales profit will be donated to Come Back Alive and Army of Drones. And after breaking even, the amount will increase to 70% of the net game proceeds, with the remaining 30% going to the development of new content for the game.

The game is planned to be released in Ukrainian and English.

About the developers

Rockodile Games is an indie studio that consists of only three game developers. They have been working on the game for six months together with Lesser Evil. During this time, a game designer from Octobear Knight Games, as well as marketing and production specialists, joined them.. Thus, they have formed a small international team with members from Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Kazakhstan, Germany, and Portugal.

Lesser Evil was founded by Hendrik Lesser, an active figure in the video game industry (President of the European Game Developers Federation and Managing Director of Games Bavaria Munich). The company stands against authoritarianism or racism and supports democracy.

“We publish video games with clear political or social intent and messaging. Video games are this century’s most widespread, impactful, and important cultural medium. As works of human expression, they should be emotional and make the player feel something,” says Hendrik Lesser.

The Kickstarter campaign started on March 9, and the developers have already exceeded their goal. More than 350 backers have believed in the project. The fundraising is ongoing.

As the company explained, the funds raised will be used to pay Ukrainian partners of Rockodile Games, who help with the visual style of the game, its audio, and storyline.

Why it matters

As Hendrik Lesser explained in an interview for Venture Beat, Death From Above is a small indie title without a huge budget, but it aims to make an impact on how people feel about the year-old war started by Russia against Ukraine.

Lesser believes that it is time to be overtly political, rather than avoiding difficult topics like most companies in the game development industry do. Although he eschewed politics in his work in the past, he explained that the war in Ukraine has changed that. He feels it is necessary to respond to challenges when democracy is under assault in so many places. The game has no anti-war message and is not a call for peace at any cost. Rather, it demonstrates the need for Ukrainians to defend themselves in the face of aggression.