Top Critic Average
Is total control a price worth paying for safety? Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You has some flaws gameplay-wise but overall the game tells a very interesting story and presents it in a thoughtful way. You're spying on people and feeding the machine with information. Try out the free demo and decide afterwards.
Review in German | Read full review
Games like Orwell recklessly attempt to work backward from the lies used to justify surveillance, rather than recognizing that we have to fight the concept itself. It is a game decades too late to matter and does more to legitimize its target than it does to take them down.
There is no deep understanding here, you won’t have your mind changed, and it certainly doesn’t have any of the emotional impact of Papers Please. But within its own barmy universe, it works! It’s a good chunk of fun, and easily survives at least a second play to see how much you can mess with people’s lives.
With a total of five episodes releasing over the coming weeks, Orwell’s story has not yet come to a close. Based on the first two instalments however, I can happily recommend this for anyone that loves to dig into a layered story – or just wants to snoop around in somebody else’s emails.
If you like getting an hour per monetary unit, then you definitely get that in Orwell. The campaign is as long as Titanfall 2, and it has a heck of a lot more gameplay to it than BATMAN the Telltale Series, both of which cost more and are written just as well.
Orwell is a thought-provoking game about privacy, politics, and ethical dilemmas such as sacrificing a few in favor of the whole. With immersive visuals and a multi-layered story, it will instantly pull you in. This game offers high replayability and starts much-needed conversations in this age of technology.
Orwell takes place in a country called the Nation, led by a modern-day authoritarian government known as The Party in the capital of Bonton. In 2012, the Party passed the Safety Bill, a law expanding the government’s ability to spy on its citizens in the name of national security. As part of the bill the Ministry of Security, led by Secretary of Security Catherine Delacroix, commissioned a covert surveillance system code named Demiurge (later renamed Orwell). Orwell allows investigations into the private communications of people of interest, but doesn’t allow any one person full access. Instead, Orwell’s operation is run by two groups; Investigators, persons outside of the Nation working for the government who search through the communication of target persons and upload items of interest (represented as “datachunks”), and Advisors, people inside of the Nation who use the received datachunks to determine the course of action and to recommend actions to the authorities.
Orwell grabs the problem of how we balance our own liberty and our safety and turns it into a thrilling adventure. It unfolds complex debate points into a dazzling satire, that neatly presents all the relevant arguments as a series of moral problems, dressed up in a frighteningly convincing world.
A lot of effort went into creating the content for the game and it is really impressive. I wish there was more room to make more of your own deductions, but that isn’t the nature of Orwell. After playing the first three episodes, I am hooked and cannot wait to play the next two. It’s simple but fun with unexpected twists along the way. There are four episodes now out on Steam, but remember your every move is being watched…
Orwell is a thought-provoking interactive debate about the politics of privacy and security. It's the kind of game that never actually feels like a game, and it manages to do it well