When Orwell came out I was very intrigued by it, but from the screenshots, I wasn’t sure how it would be a game, recently my brother had recommended it to me as he knows my love for in depth and hard hitting story games. And I was not disappointed with this, it was in depth and definitely hard hitting where it counted and the only aspect of the game that I knew about when going into it, was the collection of information on people.
First things first, and quite briefly because there isn’t much to say about the graphics of the game. It is based on a user interface that you interact with, whilst it does emulate the use of an actual browser and its contents, it is very clean and takes the realistic nature away from it with its low poly style photos. This was a nice feature as I could focus more on what the story was offering than what the characters looked like and if the modeling of said characters worked with the rest of the interface. The only time there was animation was in the first cut scene where you were introduced to the game, however, this could be either 2D or 3D with flat colours and a low poly style to keep in with the theme. The only thing I was somewhat disappointed with was the fact that there was very little camera work, the game revolves around being monitored everywhere and it is constantly referenced to that cameras are a big thing, yet we do not experience this even though it was shown that they were capable of doing this. It did not, however, subtract from the story that there weren’t any cameras, it just would have been a pretty cool feature.
The graphics made it easy to navigate around the game, making the mechanics for the game very simple as you just had to click and drag certain pieces of information into a data bank, it was simple and easy to get to grips with, it just meant reading and doing a lot of problem solving. That, however, was the allure of the game, filling in the pieces and finding out just what was going on. Due to the dragging of information, you could affect the outcome of the game depending on what pieces of information you decided to let through, this was the coolest feature, I love multiple endings.
Now onto the meat of the game, Story and Sound. As always this goes hand in hand and this is one example where it couldn’t be truer. A good story can make a good game but a good story with good music can make a great game and great story with great music can make you weep for the creativity that comes from the simple human mind. What made the music so influential towards the story was its impact and positioning, certain points of the game through the story is meant to have a huge impact on you. By itself, it might not have done that, but with the music playing at the right time, it definitely does. This is done when the computer recognises a certain piece of information on the screen and that triggers an event, this sometimes meant I heard the music before I had even gotten to the part that the music was referring too, but the highlight around the text made it easy to notice what part had made the computer register it.
The response from the music was intense, without revealing anything I will say that if you did something wrong or read something that was bad, you knew about it instantly. I made a choice that when it came to it, in my opinion, it was a very bad choice and I could feel it in the music playing. I was in shock when the event happened, the music just worsened it and further along, the story went the more intense the music became, I felt so guilty as if I had done it in real life. I played the game for such a small amount of time and the way the characters were portrayed made them very relatable that it was easy to identify with them. So when I did make a mistake, I felt like I had ruined lives.
Towards the end of the game, I was actually getting scared and anxious when I heard the music because I was associating it so much with bad situations. When I stopped playing the game, anything that made the same tone in any way towards the music, instantly made me feel bad. It was like some kind of subliminal conditioning that I wasn’t being made aware of. Obviously, as time went on it went away, but that night was filled with being on edge.
As with most stories games, I have a problem with playing them again since I know the story, but like the others, this does have replay value since there are achievements and different endings, other than that it takes around 4 to 5 hours to complete so multiple playthroughs aren’t going to take a long time.
Overall the experience was great, I would definitely recommend this to my friends or anyone who loves a good story, even if the game can get a bit depressing (With my choices at least) the interface was beautifully constructed and the music hard hitting, combining it with a wonderfully written story and you’ve got yourself one awesome game.