Mickey Mouse Just Entered The Public Domain, And There’s Already A Horror Game About Him

The devil works hard but public-domain trolls work even harder.

So scary. Credit: Nightmare Forge Games

Letting sleeping dogs lie doesn’t matter much anymore now that Disney’s Steamboat Willie has entered the public domain. Announced just after the stroke of midnight, the iconic mouse is getting a horror remake in the upcoming Infestation 88.

However, based on what’s been shown so far, this game looks like a massive troll.

Infestation 88 is the first game to be announced using the new public domain entry. Based on the game’s Steam page, Infestation 88 is a co-op player mascot survival horror game in the same vein as Lethal Company, Lunch Lady, and Phasmophobia. The trailer shows off this iteration of Mickey Mouse as a grotesque, giant rat that is infesting a storage facility. It seems to be your standard stalker enemy vs. players affair, as you and your friends complete objectives around the map to defeat Mickey.

If you thought the turnaround for this game’s announcement was quick, you’re right. Based on on the Steam page, everything from the developers to the game itself seems to be one giant troll to take advantage of a newly free public domain character – it’s similar to how filmmakers took advantage of Winnie the Pooh’s release in 2023.

The developer of Infestation 88, Nightmare Forge Games, claims to be “a team of industry veterans who have specialized in creating horror games since 2010.” The domain for the website was only just registered on Oct. 2, 2023, based on an ICANN search of the domain.

Additionally, as a Steam user pointed out on the game’s discussion page, the voice used in the trailer is a free-to-use AI voice from Eleven Labs. You can create an account on Eleven Labs for free, which I did, and yeah, the platform’s “Clyde” voice is quite similar to Infestation’s trailer.

Another Steam user was also immediately suspect of the game’s name, questioning where the “88” comes from in the title. For context, “1488” is a white supremacist dog whistle, a shorthand for the “14 words” and “Heil Hitler” with H being the 8th letter in the alphabet. Given that the game is marketed on Steam as a 1-4 player co-op called Infestation 88, you can see why some might question the developer’s intentions.

Other users also pointed out that Infestation has a “Scrabble score of 14” and the game involves you gassing rats, which isn’t exactly subtle. Plus, the game is set in 1988, as another user claims.

Responding to these claims, a spokesperson for Nightmare Forge Games told Mashable through email that “due to time constraints,” they used “a premium version of Elevenlabs AI.” They added that this is only a placeholder and there are plans to hire real voice actors in the future.

“Unfortunately, when announcing the game, we were unaware of the additional implications associated with the number 88,” the spokesperson told us, responding to claims of potential Nazi dog whistles. “Our game is set in the 1980s, with the year 1988 being chosen simply for its symmetrical design in our game’s artwork. Therefore, the 88 strictly represents the year 1988; no additional connotations are intended. We are in the process of revising this artwork to clarify the abbreviation. Should there still be concerns, we’re open to changing the game’s name.”

There’s no release date set yet for the game but the developers say it’s planned for 2024.

Assistant Editor, General Assignments

Currently residing in Austin, Texas, Chance Townsend is an Assistant Editor at Mashable. He has a Master’s in Journalism from the University of North Texas with the bulk of his research primarily focused on online communities, dating apps, and professional wrestling.

In his free time, he’s an avid cook, loves to sleep, and “enjoys” watching the Lions and Pistons break his heart on a weekly basis. If you have any stories or recipes that might be of interest you can reach him by email at [email protected].

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