The Iranian Revolution of 1979 is not exactly well-trodden ground for videogames. But at least one game took a swing at it. 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a game in the style of Telltale, a story told with playable cinematics and quicktime events. It’s mostly made of conversations and the drama that comes from making a bad decision instead of another, equally bad decision. It follows in those Telltale footsteps, sometimes stumbling, but in its setting it shows more bravery.
You’re Reza, a photographer who has been captured and imprisoned. And a nasty interrogator is questioning you about your role in protests and street fighting, between beatings and threats. Through flashbacks, you get to duck through riots, meet upstarts and rebels, and experience the tension of a divided family at dinner. It’s a game of feuds and chaos and disagreement, and you are trapped in the middle just trying to take pictures. If Reza has a commitment to anything, it’s only the truth of photography. Obviously, some people have a problem with that.
It’s a one and done game, not something episodic like The Walking Dead. But one episode is all you might want when the subject matter is a little heavier than “oh no he done got eaten by the dead lads”. It was not a perfectly told story – some of the characters felt a little flat and the dialogue was very to-the-point. But it at least went somewhere new. I wish more story-heavy games were prepared to tackle world history from the perspective of a normal human in a pair of flares, or whatever the fashion of the time period was. You don’t need your character to be a superhuman assassin for history to be interesting.