This video game lets you control a Ukrainian drone

Combined with the international outcry against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, these drones inspired a new video game: Death From Above.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar
(Lesser Evil)

Drone warfare has evolved into a new and deadlier form in the Russo-Ukrainian War. Where MQ-9 Reaper UAVs costing $32 million fired AGM-114 Hellfire missiles costing $150,000 to destroy enemy vehicles, hobby drones carrying explosives and costing just a few hundred dollars can now destroy tanks. Combined with the international outcry against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, these drones inspired a new video game: Death From Above.

death from above Ukrainian drone
Death From Above puts players in control of a Ukrainian drone (Lesser Evil)

Developed by Rockodile Games and published by Lesser Evil, Death From Above is described as, “An easy-to-pick-up arcade drone warfare game where you play as a Ukrainian military drone operator fighting against Russian invaders.” Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the game quickly exceeded its goal of €25,000. Multiple funders joined the campaign with contributions greater than €1,000.

war in ukraine video game
Despite its arcade style, the game closely mirrors real-life scenarios from the war in Ukraine (Lesser Evil)

The war in Ukraine is ongoing and modern conflicts have been sensitive video game subjects in the past. However, Lesser Evil is direct about their stance on the war and the intent of the game. “We are uncompromisingly anti-authoritarian, anti-racist, and pro-democracy,” the company’s website says. “We publish video games with clear political or social intent and messaging.” Death From Above is the only game in Lesser Evil’s portfolio.

death from above drones
The player uses a drone to drop explosives on enemy forces (Lesser Evil)

Released in early access form on May 25, 2023, Death From Above is explicitly based in Ukraine in the year 2023. The arcade-style presentation includes yellow and blue streaks, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, the trail behind the player-controlled drone. “Hidden behind enemy lines, you command a ‘super drone’ to seek and destroy tanks, take back communication towers, recover stolen goods, and fight for a better tomorrow,” states the game’s description on Steam. Players can even accept the surrender of enemy forces, similar to what is being seen in Ukraine.

death from above enemy soldiers
Enemy soldiers may surrender to the player-controlled drone (Lesser Evil)

In its early access form, Death From Above includes one drone type, one sandbox, two missions, two ground enemy types and enemy vehicles. The full version, expected around December 2023, will add missions, ammo types, a new boss fight, a photo mode and modification options for the drone. However, player feedback may influence the final version of the game.

Death From Above costs $9.99 and is available for download on Steam. Lesser Evil says that they “do not intend to increase the price of the game during or after Early Access.” Profits from the game are donated to Lesser Evil’s partner charities in Ukraine. These organizations include Rescue Now which provides food, medicine and psychological help, Army of Drones, which raises money for drone procurement and pilot training, and Come Back Alive, which provides arms, equipment and training for Ukrainian troops.