ORWELL REVIEW: who’s watching you?

★★★★☆ | $10 on Windows

Bethany Berg, Photo Editor

How private are you on social media? Is your Facebook profile available to everyone, or just friends of friends? Is your Twitter page locked? Is your Instagram private? When you Google your name, does a picture of yourself come up? When it comes to online activity, our millennial generation has always been the most literate and comfortable. But when talking about personal information stored online, everyone seems to get a little nervous. Corporate and government entities alike are surveying our histories, likes and dislikes, and personal opinions. No matter if you support the situation or not, “Orwell” takes all of the Facebook stalking you do, and puts it to use.

The game takes place in 2017, and a fictitious dystopia called “The Nation” has just suffered a terrorist attack. You play as a data analyst, someone outside The Nation who will sort through pieces of data to build a network of suspects. Orwell centers on the ethics of human-directed suspect profiling, where you work alongside with the Orwell Program that scans suspects’ personal, private and web information.

The atmosphere of Orwell was everything. From the music’s electronic swells to your administrator’s comments to the storyline advancements, it all draws you in. The writing is excellent, the art style’s polygon-like, block look was a perfect fit for a technological-centered take of Orwell’s future.

Gameplay wise, Orwell is all of the cool hacking bits shows like “Mr. Robot” and games like “Watch Dogs” miss out on. It’s a point-and-click, information-based scanning. You search targets’ social media timelines, go through text and phone conversations, and even hack into computers. The Orwell system is the place where you put your found information. From basic to personal, there’s only one catch: the information you put in, you can’t take back out. Any heavily-opinionated statements that may portray a suspect in a bad light may totally contradict who they are today; so be careful of who you trust.

Orwell is a native-driven thriller, in episodic fashion. Each episode only took me about an hour and a half to complete. If there are any major warnings I can give you before playing, it would be to take it slow. Point-and-click games may seem like the easiest to rush through because there aren’t any boss battles or side quests, but the Orwell system isn’t all it’s proposed to be. It presents biased information, malicious to the profile that you’re building. The information you put into Orwell counts and has serious consequences. With dire situations and consequences, this is a game that targets your moral standpoints. Is it worth it, to dig through private information if it may help the safety of a nation?

The only downfall I felt while playing was how much the game held my hand. You seem led through the story, where your only interaction is the biggest action you have: withholding certain information that may be invaluable to your case. It’s slow, more visual novel than a participative game, but one I enjoyed nonetheless. The first three episodes of Orwell are already released and available to play, while the last two will come out over the next two Thursdays. I hope you, along with the NSA, have enjoyed my review and try out the game!