Developer Osmotic Studios and indie label Surprise Attack Games today released the first episode of Orwell, a video game in which you must pry into the lives of citizens to find those responsible for a series of ideologically motivated terrorist attacks. A narrative-driven thriller, the game seeks to explore a key issue of our time – the growth of the internet, its impact on how we are perceived by others and the extent to which states can and should monitor their citizens.
In a small but growing category of games with serious themes such as “Papers, Please” or “Cart Life”, Orwell explores questions about contemporary society in a way that only a game can. It’s themes include the balance between security and freedom, what it means when we trade privacy for connection, and the impact of the internet on the way we perceive our world and are perceived by others.
The player is cast as themselves, recruited by The Nation to be a part of a secret new security program – Orwell. Through Orwell, the player gains access to information from the internet, and the personal communications and private files of anyone suspected of connection to the terror attacks. Acting as an impartial outside, the player must choose what information to provide to security services, and what to hold back. These choices will have consequences for those involved and affect the outcome of the story as it unfolds towards its dramatic conclusion.
Orwell is divided into five episodes, each of which take roughly one hour to complete. Reflecting its nature as a narrative-driven thriller, these episodes will release weekly, keeping players in suspense as they wait for the next episode to drop.
The first episode – The Clocks were Striking Thirteen – is available now as a free demo from Steam or IndieDB. In this episode, the player is recruited into the Orwell program and, following a terrorist attack, is given their first target to investigate. Cassandra Watergate is a young woman with a criminal record who was spotted by surveillance cameras at the site of the bombing. Digging into her social media, chat messages and online presence, the player starts to uncover a web of connections and a mysterious group who might be involved in the attack.
Orwell Release Schedule
20th October: Episode One – The Clocks were Striking Thirteen
27th October: Episode Two – A Place where there is No Darkness
3rd November: Episode Three – Unperson
10th November: Episode Four – Memory Hole
17th November: Episode Five – Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree