First-person thriller The Occupation (from Ether One devs White Paper Games) looks like an exciting spin on the immersive sim genre. Playing as a journalist in 1987 England, there’s sneaking, talking and even a bit of Deus Ex-ish crawling through vents to be done in search of the truth behind a (presumed) terrorist bombing. Unlike most games, the entire story plays out over the course of four real-time hours. Either you get to the truth and make your choices by then, or the government will pass a restrictive new set of laws unopposed. Unveiled last year, the game now has a release date set – this October 9th.
I’ve been eager to get my hands on The Occupation ever since PlayStation Universe’s hands-on preview last year. While time management is an undeniably stressful element, I feel it’s an important part of making a game suspenseful. There’s only so much you can do, and you won’t be able to see every event and interact with every character on a single run, especially if you make mistakes and get sat down in a security office for a long, stern talking-to.
I especially appreciate the choice to set it in the late ’80s. Not just politically relevant, but the limited technology of the era – chunky computers, pagers and similar – make for exciting restrictions. Oh, how easy an investigation would be with a single modern smartphone, recording audio and video and storing all your data. You even have to keep all of your inventory in a briefcase which can be put down or hidden away, if you’re afraid that prying eyes might seize or search it. It’s a far cry from Deus Ex’s data-kleptomania.
Everything that I’ve seen so far of The Occupation adds up to an interesting blend of elements wrapped around a familiar Deus Ex-ish core of exploration, storytelling and stealth. After re-acquiring my taste for time-limited immersive sim fun with Prey: Mooncrash, I absolutely need to try this one for myself.