Monday, June 27, 2016

History has been [REDACTED]


Redactor: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
I'm surprised no one before this has thought to make a game out of George Orwell's 1984. The novel includes a very game-able scenario in that the main character's profession is to change printed publications--and therefore history--by editing news stories to reflect positively on the government and slander its enemies.  This dystopian concept is actually frighteningly more plausible now thanks to the internet.  Witness Wikipedia, where well-intentioned editors often constantly battle to prevent vandals from changing details about real-world events and personalities, putting their own thumbprint on general perception.

Redactor casts the player as an employee of the Ministry of Truth in the Records Department ("Minitrue RecDep" in 1984's prescient stylization preference of eliminating extraneous words and syllables) and presents a slim time limit and rules of how a news article needs to change:

You will have 25 seconds to rectify a newspaper article so that it reports the truth:
- We have always been at war with Eurasia, and Eastasia has ever been our ally.

The player is audited a couple of times to review their performance. And...then it ends all too soon. The game is well presented and polished, and has the same sort of atmosphere as Papers, Please (which also cribs from Orwell, and chillingly satirizes Cold War bleakness.)

I wish this game could have been longer and taken its premise further.  Gameplay essentially consists of scanning an article and clicking on everything that is a hidden hyperlink before the very quick time limit expires. This feels like a prototype for a bigger game that could have done more with Twine cycling links and some red-herring links that are correct to begin with and shouldn't be changed.  As it stands, there are no wrong choices as long as you find every link, so it's more of a speed scanning click fest. I suspect the time limit is purposefully set razor-thin to present an actual challenge; in many cases the time limit was barely enough for me to even skim the entirety of the well-written in-world articles, which is a shame.  I'd have loved for the timer to run longer and to have had a chance to actually read and comprehend the articles for context and spent time figuring out how to comply with an ever-changing, increasingly difficult spaghetti-bowl of conflicting rules. Then again, that's also how it works in Papers, Please.

This is definitely worth a look.  The credits list a designer and five writers, and was created as a social engagement promotion for a stage production of 1984. Sadly, there are no photos or information of this production on the current website linked in the credits.  [Was it REDACTED???] Theater websites rarely advertise past shows so this is understandable, but would have been a neat easter egg for completing the game.

Despite some missed opportunities in gameplay, what's offered is very well implemented and polished, uses Twine in unique fashion, and provides a brief glimpse into the reflected eye of Big Brother in the monitor watching over your shoulder.
---
I over-design flashy webpages for my rather under-developed IF games at hanonondricek.wix.com/pyramidif

3 comments:

  1. has the same sort of atmosphere as Papers, Please (which also cribs from Orwell, and chillingly satirizes Cold War bleakness.)

    It sounds like it shares a bit with The Republia Times, the game Papers, Please's dev made earlier: http://dukope.com/play.php?g=trt

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are right! I totally forgot about that one!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey! Awesome! Thanks for posting about my game. It was something I made in my spare time as goofy thing to help promote the play we were presenting. And then the play sold out of tickets so it felt weird to directly attach it to the play when no one could actually buy anything. In any case, Headlong Theatre does a bit of touring, so if the show ever comes near you I highly recommend seeing it. It's intense. The trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDxXuvTzDhk

    ReplyDelete