A bizarre live-action indie game about escaping a Chinese internet addiction treatment prison is burning up the Steam charts.
Breakout 13 launched on Steam late in 2022, though its Chinese developer, ALT Lab, only put out an English-subtitled version earlier this year. This is an entry in the now-aged genre of FMV games, where you basically watch a movie play out while making certain choices along the way that affect the outcome of the story. Even if you haven't played a ton of FMV games, you'll be right at home if you've enjoyed narrative-driven titles like As Dusk Falls or Detroit: Become Human.
The wild bit about Breakout 13 is its story, which puts you in control of a teenage Chinese boy sent to a camp for the treatment of internet addiction. He's skeptical of the thing from the start, and that skepticism turns to horror when it becomes clear that the camp is effectively a prison where patients are put through electroshock therapy to make them stop playing so darn much League of Legends.
It's campy and quirky, though elements of its story are drawn from real-life accounts of internet addiction facilities - a death at one such institution in 2017 (opens in new tab) led to a spate of articles about them (opens in new tab) in Western media (opens in new tab). With a very earnest take on very grim subject matter, Breakout 13 managed to endear itself to a lot of fans, becoming a modest success with thousands of concurrent players.
There was one major complaint levied at Breakout 13's release, though - it wasn't complete. The game ended on a cliffhanger, with an upcoming DLC release set to properly conclude its story. That DLC launched on February 2, and really seems to have indicated just how much positive word of mouth had developed since the game's initial release. There was a peak of 4,000 concurrent players just after Breakout 13's launch. Once the DLC hit, the concurrent player count reached 11,996 players, as SteamDB (opens in new tab) shows.
I certainly wasn't expecting to count this strange little import among the best games of 2023 so far, but here we are. Now to convince the rest of the office about it...