Right off the bat, anyone who actually made it through their reading list in highshool English class would most likely predict any new game titled ‘Orwell’ might be about to try and thematically explore both technological authoritarianism and very grey morality. In this case, you’d be right, and this new Orwell sees to ape the mechanisms of power in its namesake’s classic ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, but now with a slick Twenty-First Century look, a whole new lexicon of doubleplusgood compound word gibberish, and by placing you – the player – behind the controls of the surveillance state’s nightmare machine.
The premise of Orwell is that you are the most recent new recruit at the security department of a ruthless, modern, one-party dictatorship’s unfeeling government office and are being assigned to the task of monitoring a national database’s worth of information through little more than mouse control click-and-scroll from your work-issue laptop. The slightly dubious nature of having an inexperienced new hire involved in top-level security quickly proves useful when your “impartiality” sees you assigned to the task of using your new toolset to find the culprit(s) behind a recent bombing at a public park political demonstration.
The gameplay itself is initially interesting, and certainly unique among what games I’ve seen, however, when you’re several hours in and starting to wind up the story, it might start to feel a bit samey and unchallenging. Essentially the central puzzle at hand at any given time is navigating one of your open browser pages to read or listen to the right excerpt of information, then follow a hyperlink on that page until the story eventually runs through all its possible strands and you get some new pile of expy social media pages to comb through. I can’t say I found the story itself to be anything hugely impressive, and despite the game’s store page and other Reviews implying an ability to sway a branching plot, that isn’t really the case in any major sense.
I’ll go ahead and officially Recommend Orwell on the basis of its high level of polish, full Steam community integration (Trading Cards, Achievements, Chat Emotes, and all the rest) and an extensive effort by the devs to continue patching in further international language support. But apart from that, I can’t strictly say you should pick this game up unless it’s on sale, and/or, or just really want to try this specific sort of art-project-come-‘game’.