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Surveillance 'em up Orwell is free for keepsies right now

Our John gave this one the official RPS seal of approval

Yeah man, I love the 80s. Blasting Sisters Of Mercy out my boombox as I cycle round town on my Raleigh Lizard with Kellogg's Corn Flakes reflectors on the spokes, doing the electric boogaloo in front of the telescreen like a good citizen, getting wrecked with the lads down the Chestnut Tree Café, then waking up with my head strapped into a cage of ravenous rats. Hell yeah 1984 forever! If you're well retro too, you might want to check out dystopian surveillance game Orwell, as being given away free for the next day-and-a-bit.

Orwell puts us in the jackboots of The Man, tasked with running a vast computer surveillance system to root out suspects and subversives in the aftermath of a supposed terrorist attack on the capital. What you find--and what you say you found--shape the unfolding of the story, which developers Osmotic Studios released in weekly episodes when Orwell first hit in 2016.

Our John struggled with the conceit and limitations of the surveillance system in his Orwell review (it's just a game: he should really just relax) but was won over:

"But we must suspend our disbelief, no matter how precariously, if potential fun is on the line. And, it should be said, that as silly as the conceit may be, the effects of sharing information out of context are profound, and of course largely the game's point. It’s very, very easy, when playing, to quite forget how information could be misconstrued. Early on you are spying on the text message chat of a suspect who jokes to her partner that she's 'stolen' his credit card, and plans to go on a spree. Share that snippet (and you can only share that which has been pre-selected by the developers), and your handler will take the matter quite seriously, and report the theft. Then of course, after realising how easily you forget that the context isn’t being seen by him, you can of course manipulate the delivery of information deliberately. Or indeed just choose to not share it at all. Quickly it becomes apparent how easily you can shape perception by what you choose to divulge."

You can see find that out yourself for free, as the Humble Store are giving away Orwell for free until 6pm on Saturday (10am Pacific). It comes for Windows, Mac, and Linux as a Steam key to activate on Valve's platform.

A sequel, Orwell: Ignorance Is Strength, followed in early 2018. Our John was less taken with that, though he had only played the first episode then. Does it pick up after that, gang?

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.

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