Orwell is at least as scary as its dystopian inspiration and that’s without rats. I missed 2013’s Papers, Please, but Orwell apparently shares the premise while doing away with any of the whimsy or charm. Utilizing a system that uses a terror event to justify digging into a web of interconnected people’s private lives through social media, messaging systems, text messages and a host of other digital breadcrumbs, Orwell places you in the decision maker’s seat as to what gets reported to the [SECURITY AGENCY], an on-the-nose NSA analog, and what doesn’t. While some clues that I reported in order to close an inquiry seemed innocuous, my handler interpreted them as clear evidence of malfeasance. Some of the criticism of this game has expressed frustration with this system as opaque and frustrating; I disagree. My handler is a True Believer and his strong tendency to default to seeing the worst possible interpretation of information and giving the green light for even more invasion of the subjects’ privacy seems absolutely accurate to me, making the game even more chilling.
Orwell is not a particularly fun game, but it is an interesting, frightening, disturbing, and maybe important game. The only reason I have for you not to play it is that it’s clearly a critique of the electronic security state which I’m pretty sure means anyone who plays it gets put on a list somewhere in Maryland. Thanks for turning social media into a horror game, Orwell.