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The anatomy of a scoop in journo-thriller The Occupation

As a lifelong fan of immersive sims since before we had a name for the genre, I need to get my grubby mitts on The Occupation, an investigative thriller set in politically taut ’80s London. With a clock ticking in real-time and a conspiracy to be untraveled before a quiet and painfully legal government crackdown, there’s a lot to be done. With only days until it launches on March 5th, developers White Paper Games have released ten minutes of footage, showing us how a single lead can be followed in order to catch a conspirator in a lie. See how it works in the video below.

For the most part, it’s familiar immersive sim stuff, but with a very different tone, being set in the real world (or close to it), and putting the player in a journalist’s shoes. If caught by guards, you’re not going to be making a dramatic escape or fighting your way out – you’re (if lucky) going to get a stern talking to, and at worst detained until it’s too late. Despite not being caught, the player even sets off an alarm at one point, and still gets told off because who else would be snooping around there? It’s a world of non-idiots and vent shafts a man can crawl through without getting dusty.

It’s obviously not realistic. That floppy disk might have been nuked just by dropping it on the floor by a power plug, and that’s some positively fanciful data recovery. I’m not grumbling – between the Deus Ex-ish vents and the protagonist’s nigh-supernatural stealth (ninja journalists – the ultimate press sneak fucks!), it’s fanciful enough to still feel like a game. A very exciting looking game with a fresh setting, concept and some clever spins on familiar systems. Multiple solutions, multiple endings and a world that keeps on ticking even when you’re not looking – this feels like a good next step after binging on Thief for two weeks.

The Occupation launches on March 5th. You can find it on Steam and Humble. It’s also published by Humble Bundle.

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Dominic Tarason

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