China banned the horror game ‘Devotion’ but now you can play it again

Devotion is a smart, slick, spooky video game that just so happened to run afoul of Xi Jinping.

After nearly two years of not accepting new players, a much-hyped Taiwanese indie horror game has finally resurfaced for anyone in the mood for a compelling supernatural mystery that will scare the absolute hell out of them. Earlier today, Red Candle Games, the studio behind Devotion, tweeted for the first time in over a year to announce the opening of its own e-store featuring a DRM-free edition of the game for both PC and Mac users.

Starting at just $16.99, anyone can purchase and play Devotion following its protracted inaccessibility due to censorship by the Chinese government. It’s crime? Including a small reference to a meme pointing out President Xi Jinping’s resemblance to Winnie the Pooh... no, seriously.

Devotion’s devotion to comedy — In Devotion, players assume the role of a screenwriter, Du Feng Yu, living in a 1980’s Taiwanese apartment tenement as he runs afoul of a very creepy, supernatural mystery involving the rest of his family. Released on February 19, 2019, via Steam, Red Candle Games’ atmospheric first-person horror game quickly earned widespread praise from players and critics for its thoughtful storyline and terrifying scares.

Less than a week later, however, the game found itself review bombed, then delisted on the platform after drawing the ire of the Chinese government for an in-game gag poster that roughly translates to “Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh moron,” a message referencing popular memes comparing the then-General Secretary to the “chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.”

Red Candle eventually issued an apology for its “severe art material mistake,” but didn’t make the game immediately available again. Although it briefly seemed as though Devotion could reemerge on GOG, CD Projekt Red also backed out of the agreement after being inundated with criticism (ironically, a preview of things to come for the company).

Oh bother.

Back from the dead — After months of radio silence, Red Candle Games appears to have emerged triumphant with its new e-store. By offering Devotion in a DRM-free edition, the studio hopes “to provide a direct and simple purchasing channel for players who’re interested in our games.”

The store also includes Red Candle’s earlier horror-adventure release, 2017’s Detention. As The Verge points out, it’s not currently clear whether or not the Xi Jinping gag has been removed from the game. In case it has, may we encourage you to cast your eyes upwards and examine the picture of Xi Jinping and his yellow doppelganger side-by-side. The resemblance is striking, isn’t it?