has been refused classification in Australia this week, effectively banning it from sale from retailers and many digital distribution platforms in that country. The ratings board stated that a particularly brutal scene of sexual violence influenced this decision, although the publisher takes issue with the wording in the report. 2
The classification board explained the reasoning on the official web page:
The computer game is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1. (a) as computer games that "depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified."
Publisher Devolver Digital shared the ratings report with Polygon, which describes the offending scene thusly:
In the sequence of game play footage titled Midnight Animal, the protagonist character bursts into what appears to be a movie set and explicitly kills 4 people, who collapse to the floor in a pool of copious blood, often accompanied by blood splatter. After stomping on the head of a fifth male character, he strikes a female character wearing red underwear. She is knocked to the floor and is viewed lying face down in a pool of copious blood. The male character is viewed with his pants halfway down, partially exposing his buttocks. He is viewed pinning the female down by the arms and lying on top of her thrusting, implicitly raping her (either rear entry or anally) while her legs are viewed kicking as she struggles beneath him. This visual depiction of implied sexual violence is emphasised by it being mid-screen, with a red backdrop pulsating and the remainder of the screen being surrounded by black.
This depiction of implied sexual violence exceeds what can be accommodated within the R18+ classification category and the game is therefore Refused Classification.
The report also states this was not the only scene that led to the rating.
"First, to clear up any possible misconceptions, the opening cinematic that was first shown in June of 2013 has not changed in any way. We also want to make clear that players are given an choice at the start of the game as to whether they wish to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence," Devolver said in a statement.
"The sequence in question is presented below in context, both after choosing the uncut version of the game and after choosing to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence."
The scene is, of course, graphic and depicts a violent, sexual act. You can view it below, and it's worth noting that the game gives you an option of not taking part of this scene in the game.
"In response to the report itself, we are concerned and disappointed that a board of professionals tasked with evaluating and judging games fairly and honestly would stretch the facts to such a degree and issue a report that describes specific thrusting actions that are not simply present in the sequence in question and incorrectly portrays what was presented to them for review," Devolver continued.
The company stated it had no plans to challenge the ruling. The R18+ rating, which was aimed to allow adult content to be sold in Australia, was put into effect in 2012. We reached out to Australia's classification board for comment and have yet to hear back.