In the first half of this essay I examined the aesthetic strategies of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days as expressing a documentarian style and commenting on our relation to images. I also analyzed the Shanghai setting and linked it to an exteriorization of the characters’ troubled psyches. I continue my survey on the game with a character study and a closer look at its themes.
What the characters of Dog Days represent is true villainy with no possible means of virtuous redemption, and certainly not the formulaic antihero protagonists in constant vogue in the world of videogames. Kane and Lynch are not characters that share the grizzled populist heroics of Aiden Pearce of Watch Dogs, whose hacktivist trench coat and face scarf feels tailor-made for merchandizing purposes, nor are they like the handsome, free-spirited rogue Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. These antiheroes are designed with flaws in order to make them more humanly relatable and attractive because they have vulnerabilities that translate into underdog narratives. With Kane and Lynch, the writers have crafted wholly unlikable, unreliable narrators who indiscriminately fire into crowded city streets alongside cops who often kill civilians in their furious manhunt. In consequence, the two Kane & Lynch titles and especially Dog Days are games about violence and evil, where human conflict is juxtaposed against grander evils of capitalist exploitation and the perpetuation of toxic masculinity.
Read the full column at Thumbsticks.