How Has There Never Been A Bonnie & Clyde Co-Op Game?
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Darrow are American cultural icons. The criminal lovers were famous for the string of robberies and killings they committed in the '30s, and met violent ends when a police ambush in 1934 left their car riddled with over 100 bullet holes.
The romance and drama inherent in a criminal couple cutting a violent path through the countryside as they run from the law has caused their story to live on in popular culture. Their story was famously retold in Arthur Penn’s 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde, a brashly violent (for the time) movie that, along with The Graduate, prefigured the New Hollywood era that would arrive astride a motorcycle in 1969's Easy Rider. It also kicked off a slew of his-and-hers gangster films in the ‘70s. Steven Spielberg’s first American theatrical release was The Sugarland Express which told a similar story, as did Robert Altman’s Thieves Like Us, Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway, and Terrence Malick's Badlands.
So why hasn’t the story really permeated gaming? The medium and the story are a perfect fit, as evidenced by the two games released by Hazelight Studios, the preeminent developer of co-op games in the modern triple-A industry. Hazelight has made games that embody different aspects of the Bonnie and Clyde story. A Way Out, the studio's first game, tells the story of two criminals, Leo and Vincent, who have to work together to escape prison. Hazelight's follow-up, It Takes Two, is about a husband and wife who are headed to divorce when they are magically shrunken down and turned into toys by their young daughter's magic wish. They have to work together to become human again, rediscovering their love for each other (and dismembering a plush elephant) along the way.
All you need to do is combine those two elements and you've basically got a Bonnie and Clyde game. Hazelight's approach suits the material perfectly (to the extent that I really wish this turned out to be the studio's unannounced next game). You make one player Bonnie, make the other Clyde, then give them increasingly complex heists to attempt where each needs to fulfill different roles. One watches for the cops, the other gets the money from the safe. One drives the getaway car, the other empties a clip out the window at their pursuers. If one gets injured, the other needs to assemble a tourniquet.
This Bonnie and Clyde game could be open-world (like GTA 5) or go linear (like Dishonored), and both approaches have their advantages. Bonnie and Clyde amassed a fairly sizable gang over their years-long spree, so the game could incorporate base-building and recruitment a la Red Dead Redemption 2. Plus, a key part of the Bonnie and Clyde mythology is rural America. The couple were doing their crimes in small southern cities, not big metropolitan areas, and when they escaped, they headed out and made camp in the wilderness. An open-world approach seems like the best fit in some ways.
On the other hand, a mission-based game like Dishonored would allow for much more layered heists. In reality, Bonnie and Clyde heists weren't especially complicated, but a game has room for creative license (especially since anyone the pair interacted with are long dead at this point). A co-op Bonnie and Clyde immersive sim could be extremely cool.
Given how huge gaming series like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption star criminals, and plenty others, like Hitman, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, and Assassin's Creed, star characters who violently operate outside the law, it's wild that Bonnie and Clyde haven't gotten the triple-A treatment. Perhaps the criminal duo rumoured to appear in GTA 6 will sate my appetite. Let me be a rural criminal, please!
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