Liberty or safety?
We live in an age where surveillance is easier than ever before and the argument for using it is our safety. But how much are we willing to sacrifice for it?
Orwell is one of those small games who really surprise. It appeared multiple times in my Steam queues and I always skipped it, because I wasn’t sure if it was my kind of thing. Then the Steam summer sale 2017 happened and what should I say… I got weak. A while later I actually played it and never regretted it once. It’s even the only game so far I made every achievement for, because the different ways to handle the… let’s call it case were really fun to discover.
The small German team from Osmotic Studios created a game with simple graphics and controls, but deep meaning. In a time where we voluntarily spread private informations across social media, Orwell shows how easily this can be exploited, even twisted or changed to fit the narrative.
Nomen est omen. The game is all about total surveillance. In Orwell you are an investigator, working for the fictitious nation called “The Nation”. After a terrorist attack at the Freedom Plaza, your job is it to comb through information to find the perpetrator. In your investigation you will visit not only documents provided by the government, but also social media profiles of target persons and even listen in on their most private conversations. While collecting the informations that will hopefully lead to the arrest of the one(s) responsible, what you upload into the Orwell system is completely up to you (some data chunks have to be uploaded in order to continue though). The advisor – your partner in… uhm… crime – then interprets the information provided. Be careful what you upload and what not. It’ll have consequences and lifes may depend on it.
What kept me from buying and playing Orwell for a while are the graphics and the gameplay. Not that the graphics are bad. They are actually quite the contrary. The artistic geometric stile is beautiful and despite the pretty dystopian display of total surveillance, it’s very colourful. But you won’t see much of Bonton or the Nation besides photos in newsreports. Because your job is right in front of your screen. You won’t run around, collecting evidence. You are confined to the coziness of your home (if it’s cozy) and the Orwell system.
Orwell takes about five hours to beat and works completely without voiceacting. So the time you need to beat it would depend on how fast you can read. Doing all achievements I have 17 hours on the clock, and I may be play it again sometimes.
The next season, Orwell: Ignorance is Strength, is already announced and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Until then, if you haven’t played it yet, keep your eyes open for sales on Steam, Humble Bundle or GOG. Normal price are € 10, but it’s for sale at Humble Bundle at the moment for € 7,99. And if you have Origin Access, you can even play it for free, as it is one of the games in the vault. No excuses left.
I would love to hear from you, if you’ve played it. Tell me how you liked it and what you take on it is. Really, it would made my day. Until then, I hope you have a great week ahead of you.