It's a classic hypothetical conundrum: If you could travel backwards in time, would you kill Baby Hitler before he ever did anything wrong? Whatever Butterfly Effects might arise from the Führer's death and subsequent preservation of 6 million human lives would certainly be justified, right?
There's no one easy answer, which is the point. But an indie game developer named Jon Aegis decided to throw another twist into the question: what if, instead of killing Baby Hitler, you just subjected Adult Hitler to Psychotherapy and resolve all the issues that made him into an evil despot?
That's the basic plot for the new computer game Heal Hitler, which is now available on Steam. Here's the official blurb:
POV: You are Hitler's psychologist in 1925. Diagnose his complexes by using both Jungian and Freudian psychotherapy and attempt to heal him. Succeed and avoid the war.
The game takes place in your office, where you diagnose your new client, Mr. Hitler.He comes to you with a problem – he claims he has some anger issues.
You will use psychoanalytic techniques to diagnose the source of his trauma, that could be triggering his anger and hate.
The game is a classic conversation game (akin to visual-novel types), and could also be considered a "conversational walking simulator".
You try to uncover the depths of Hitler's personality through conversation. You will be able to talk with him during 3 therapy sessions, a few months apart. Each session features 3-8 decision points, that will influence the final ending.
Aegis, who identifies as a "centrist and a capitalist," notes in the Steam description that this is "intended as a serious game," and insists that he has "thoroughly researched" both Hitler's personal history and relationships, as well as psychological reports on his character. "The facts in the conversations are verified by multiple sources," he adds.
Needless to say, there are some people who are less than enthused about an empathetic portrayal of one of the worst mass murderers in human history that purportedly examines the catastrophic consequences of intergenerational trauma and the dormant potential for evil that lies within all humans.
Curiously, there is very little information about game creator Jon Aegis available before the past week or so, when he started getting attention for his game announcement. Take from that what you will.