Believable writing and gameplay mesh to bring the Orwellian nightmare to life.

User Rating: 8 | Orwell PC


With Orwell literally simulating a job, its success or failure as a game almost entirely hinges on the strength of its writing. Fortunately for all of us, it succeeds with flying colors. The characters it depicts are distinct and memorable. The scenarios it presents to you demand your full attention, else you miss something that leads to catastrophe. In the end it will leave you wondering how else things could have played out.

To be clear, Orwell is an almost entirely text based experience. It mimics a work computer, including internet browser, email, and even a news and weather report. There is no voice acting, though the voice in my head for each of them is so strong that I had to pause and double check myself on that. Props again to the writers for that. The sound in the game sets a good atmosphere but is limited in quantity to the point of being noticeably repetitive.

If you can stomach the reading load, Orwell is a novel game that is well worth your time and the cost of admission.

Additional details:

The visual style of Orwell does an excellent job of being familiar enough to reality while also smoothing over reality's rough edges and mismatching designs. Throughout the game you'll uncover multiple pictures of the same character, often showing different sides of the person than you've seen before. For example you may first discover a finely manicured business photo before later discovering a photo of the same person out on the town, presumably a few drinks in and have a good time. Of course these aren't real photos, but artist renditions.

In order to discuss this next topic, I'll give you the most basic, spoiler free description of what you do in the game. You are tasked with investigating specific people and deciding whether what you find does or does not get added to a government database. Essentially you are both the spy and the filter between your target and the government. With that said, there were a few instances related to this that hampered my immersion. Generally it came from being required to enter a piece of information into the Big Brother system that I would have elected to keep private had it not been needed to progress.

I'll close with a few words on replayability. While there are multiple endings and outcomes to each chapter, I personally didn't feel compelled to replay more than a couple specific moments. The decisions that lead to each result are rarely obvious, so it's hard to go back and change things without reexamining things on a larger scale than I was interested in. There are guides out there that could speed up the process if you're so interested. I happily spent 9 hours with Orwell, nearly all of which was a single careful playthrough.