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Breaking Down the Judas Reveal Trailer

A different kind of city in the sky.



A Closer Look at the Judas Reveal Trailer

Judas Game Awards 2022 Reveal Trailer Analysis

Among the many fantastic announcements at this year’s Game Awards, none were as pleasantly surprising as the announcement of Judas. Developed by the relatively new studio Ghost Story Games, and from the creatively inspired mind of Ken Levine, Judas is set to be the spiritual successor to Bioshock we have all been waiting for.

Ghost Story Games was founded in 2017 by Ken Levine (creator of Bioshock, Bioshock Infinite, and System Shock 2) and is comprised of a number of former Irrational staff who helped bring the Bioshock series to life. Judas will be the studio’s first-ever game, and so far, very little has been revealed about it. Prior to its official announcement, the game seemingly went through many iterations over the course of its development, and clearly evolved into something far bigger than the studio originally envisioned it to be. And for a while, it was feared to be in development hell, destined never to see the light of day.

Mercifully, that all changed on December 8, when Judas was revealed to the world with a lavish and stylized teaser trailer. While perhaps light on any concrete details, the trailer was filled with hints and secrets regarding the mystery of this strange new world, as well as small snapshots into what kind of gameplay players might expect to experience when it finally comes out.

Here’s everything I was able to uncover.

Image: Ghost Story Games - Story
Image: Ghost Story Games – Story

The Story

The fair-haired woman seen limping toward the camera at the very start of the trailer is none other than Judas, the eponymous hero (or potential villain) of the game. She is also the main, playable character, and it seems she is to blame for the flames and general destruction that surround her.

According to both the voiceover and the game’s description on Ghost Story’s website, Judas needs to fix what she broke. But what has she broken? The ship itself? The society that lived aboard it? Or has she lived up to her namesake and broken somebody’s (or a whole group of people’s) trust? The game description goes on to say, “You are the mysterious and troubled Judas. Your only hope for survival is to make or break alliances with your worst enemies. Will you work together to fix what you broke – or will you leave it to burn?”

In terms of story, there’s not that much to go on. Although, if it’s anything like the games that inspired it, it’s clear that players will be in for a wild ride as they explore a crumbling, “dying” ship; deal with the remnants of an overly ambitious society fallen to ruin; meet, befriend, and kill a whole host of eccentric characters; and discover the horrible truth at the heart of it all.

Ominously, the trailer ends with what looks to be an asteroid colliding with the ship. Could this be a result of what Judas broke? Or a potential “bad ending”, if she fails to leave in time?

Image: Ghost Story Games Judas reveal trailer
Image: Ghost Story Games – Judas


Regarding Judas’ personality, it can be implied that she is resourceful and highly skilled, considering the number of weapons she expertly handles in the trailer, and was likely fairly well-known in this ship’s society. To be in a position to do this much damage and break everything so completely, it would make sense that Judas was once on more friendly terms with the influential people of the ship. Either that, or she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, but considering the fact that the other characters shown in the trailer seem to know her (unless her “crime” was publicly admonished), it is more likely to be the former.

The trailer introduces Judas in a manner that is very reminiscent of Rapture’s introduction in Bioshock – the cold metal interior of a spaceship in ruins looks remarkably similar to the cold metal of a submerged city in ruins. It’s clear the game is leaning heavily on its creator’s past successes. Judas even carries a hammer that looks similar to Jack’s wrench. Could this hammer be the game’s primary melee weapon? Probably. Could the game’s tagline be literally translated as the player having to use this hammer to repair and rebuild? Possibly.

As with the main protagonists of the Bioshock games, part of Judas’ characterization comes from her hands. Being a first-person game, the hands are all players will see of her for the majority of the game. The first thing that stands out is the large circular device embedded in her left hand. This isn’t unique to Judas, as it appears every human character possesses one, too. These devices appear to allow the player to use this game’s version of Plasmids and Vigors – elemental attacks that fry, electrocute, or generally destroy enemies. Whereas Vigors and especially Plasmids were biological in nature, these attacks seem much more mechanical, or cybernetic. They also appear to be far more painful to use.

Lastly, Judas has a tattoo of a pawprint on her left wrist. Booker DeWitt had the letters AD carved into the back of his hand – which stood for Anna DeWitt, his daughter’s name – and Jack had chains tattooed on his wrists – symbols of his unwitting servitude. So it seems likely that this pawprint is also symbolic, and not just that Judas likes dogs. Although what it might symbolize is yet to be seen.

Image: Ghost Story Games - Denizens of the Ship
Image: Ghost Story Games – Denizens of the Ship

Denizens of the Ship

It’s not a Bioshock game without any eccentric cast of supporting characters taking their ambitions and beliefs far, far beyond breaking point, and, it seems, it’s not a spiritual successor without them either. The teaser trailer introduces us to four interesting characters, aside from Judas. Characters who, as the description implies, may now be her worst enemies.

The first shown is a sheriff of some description. From the look of him, he may be in charge of the ship’s security, and certainly seems to be in charge of a small army of horse-headed automatons. He is first seen talking to the player, to Judas, through the bars of a cell, but is later seen guiding her on how to use an electric burst ability with the circular device on her left hand. These could be two parts of the same playthrough, but they could just as easily be different outcomes depending on whether the player has chosen to “make” or “break” their alliance with him.

Image: Ghost Story Games Judas reveal trailer
Image: Ghost Story Games

The second is a peculiar pink-haired robot (or perhaps cyborg). Parts of her flesh have peeled away to reveal the metalwork beneath, and her right arm is missing. She could be an artist of some kind, given the kissing sculpture right behind her, the bright colors of her clothes, and the rose she holds, but that is just speculation. She does appear to be able to hack into enemy turrets and use them against Judas’ foes, however.

The third character is a bald, expensively dressed performer of some variety. She certainly appears to be dancing on stage in her introduction. She, too, appears to be at least partly robotic (is everyone aboard the ship a cyborg? Even Judas?) This character later materializes next to a large mechanical egg which bursts open to reveal a bounty of guns, items, and ammo which all subsequently disappear. Could siding with her grant the player access to these eggs as weapon caches? Or are they shops or workbenches to purchase and upgrade weapons from?

The fourth and final character is a dark-haired woman, seen only briefly, who appears to be incredibly angry with Judas and points a gun to her head.

Whatever the backstories of these characters may be, and why they hate Judas aside, it’s clear the player will have to get to know them quite well over the course of the story. As the voiceover says, Judas’ only way out is with one of them. From the sounds of it, and the fact that in previous interviews, Ken Levine said that he wanted his next game to be smaller and more replayable, the player may be given the choice as to who to side with during each playthrough. Would that then cause the others to hunt them down in revenge? If what Ken Levine said was true, the game should adapt to the choices a player makes, resulting in a different experience each time they play.

Image: Ghost Story Games - Enemies in the Judas reveal trailer
Image: Ghost Story Games – Enemies


While enemies do appear in the trailer, it’s the world and the other characters who get preferential treatment. Those foes we do see appear to mainly be automatons – robotic creations hellbent on tearing Judas limb from limb.

There are two types of automatons seen in the trailer. The first are the horse-headed robots, who appear to be able to wield weapons and are seen fighting with other humans. They certainly seem to be under the sheriff’s control, but could a faction of them have gone rogue? The second are only seen briefly and appear more like classic robots. Very little can be surmised about them from this trailer, however.

Other than automatons, it seems Judas will also do battle with other humans. Interestingly, all those potential enemies seen in the trailer appear to be bald men. But why are they bald? Are they members of a religious cult? Clones? We may have to wait a long time to find out for sure.

Image: Ghost Story Games - The Ship Itself Judas reveal trailer
Image: Ghost Story Games – The Ship Itself

The Ship Itself

We know Judas takes place aboard a ship because the game description tells us so. There are even several glimpses of distant stars and nearby planets through windows in the trailer. But considering the sheer size and scale of what’s been seen so far, it’s easy to mistake it for another city.

In fact, it most likely is a city, just one that’s floating in space – think a merging of Bioshock’s Rapture and Infinite’s Columbia. It certainly appears to be separated into distinct districts like a city, with some lavishly decorated areas clearly intended for the upper classes, and other dingy and dilapidated ones for the lower. The ship certainly gives off that “fallen society” vibe that Bioshock games do so well.

It’s also filled to the brim with political and religious ideologies left unchecked. In particular, posters in the wealthier sections of the ship appear to promote some kind of religion. Various symbols of hands grasping torches can be spotted, as well as allusions to “carrying the flame”. These posters seem to encourage unity, loyalty, and the coming together to support a single ideal. There is even a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it poster asking people to do what they can to “protect Baby C”. This is very reminiscent of the “Lamb of Columbia” posters from Bioshock Infinite. The baby depicted on the poster has shoulder-length blonde hair – just like Judas. Could she be Baby C, all grown up and rejecting the duties or prophecy laid upon her? Or is she related to the baby somehow?

The upper-class posters also heavily reference the theme of Love – with roses and kissing being most prominent. As well as the phrase “Eat the Cookie”. This phrase, and these cookies, come up quite frequently, actually. Could they be drugged to keep the denizens of the ship blissfully in line and unaware of the true nature of things, al la We Happy Few? Or are they something else entirely?

The posters of the dingier lower-class areas give off an entirely different feeling. In these grungy and grimy sections, the posters are far less color and far more disturbing. They tell their readers to be thankful for what little they have, and that to love is a sin – very different messaging to those up above. Are the upper classes trying to control those they deem as lesser through poor diet and restriction of reproduction? The Bioshock games have always incorporated the worst ideas of humanity alongside their political and social commentary, so could this ship have started using eugenics?

Whatever is happening, social and religious commentary definitely plays a large part in the world-building of Judas. Partway through the trailer, Judas enters what appears to be a train station, only instead of a train, there’s an enormous mechanical dog that seems to be acting as the main source of transportation. Manage to pull your eyes away from the giant dog and look above him, however, and viewers will see a sign that indicates transport is for pilgrims only, and only those with over one thousand social credit may board.

Last but not least, the song chosen for the trailer “Leave Her, Johnny”, is an old sea shanty about wanting to return home. Perhaps this ship is returning back to Earth, and its people want nothing more than for the voyage to finally be over.

Image: Ghost Story Games Judas reveal trailer
Image: Ghost Story Games

While everything may just be speculation at the moment, there certainly seems to be a lot about this brave new world we can glean from this reveal trailer. And finding out what they are is almost as fun as exploring Judas‘ world itself. Right now, this game could be about anything, and while it’s fun to guess and pick things apart, it seems we might have to wait a while to find out the truth.

Max Longhurst is a keen gamer, avid writer and reader, and former teacher. He first got into gaming when, at the age of 8, his parents bought him a PS2 and Kingdom Hearts for Christmas, and he’s never looked back. Primarily a PlayStation fan, he loves games with a rich single-player experience and stories with unexpected twists and turns.