Back when I was studying George Orwell’s Animal Farm in school, I would not have believed anyone who told me it would get a video game adaptation – and yet, one came out today. Orwell’s Animal Farm is a point and click game made by the creators of Reigns, along with Failbetter’s Emily Short. It’s based on the 1945 book, which tells a story about farm animals who revolt and overthrow their human farmers. So, uh, maybe not the cheeriest game for the holidays, but I’m pretty interested in seeing how well it works as a game.
“George Orwell once famously said that, ‘In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia ‘, and games are no exception,” the devs say. “If we want to mature as art and entertainment, we need to learn how to tackle a wider range and more complicated subject matters.”
Animal Farm is an allegorical book critiquing the totalitarian regime of Stalin’s Russia. It’s about animals getting rid of their nasty humans, and then making all the animals equal – which (spoilers) is not really what happens.
Unlike the book, the game lets you make choices that can lead to eight different endings. You’ll need to “assign their tasks, manage their resources, choose their laws, and direct their propaganda” as well as “determine which of the animals will make sacrifices and which will be ‘more equal than others.'” As I said, cheery stuff.
“Video games excel at answering ‘what if?’ questions,” says Short in a press release. “Our goal was to capture Orwell’s observations in a form that players can explore. We want players to experience the different animals’ viewpoints through the choices they make.”
Orwell’s Animal Farm is out on Steam, the Epic Games Store and Humble for £8/$10/€10 (though Steam has a 10% launch discount until December 17th). That’s about the same price as a new hardcover copy of the novel costs, so I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. You can grab it on mobile for iOS and Android, too, if you like.