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Review: Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Osmotic Studios released Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You in October of 2016. Needless to say, I am (4 years) late to the party. But I couldn't resist playing the game for myself when I saw that it was named after one of my all-time favorite authors. After a few minutes of fawning over the sleek style depicted in the promotional images, I was sold.

The game does not disappoint. The strongest aspects, by far, are narrative and style. Orwell's plot is anything but predictable, and it rewards players for digging deeper than necessary. This is truly an experience designed for the nosiest of gamers. If you enjoy delving into the human psyche to unearth the darkest secrets of complete strangers, you will love this game. The characters feel miraculously like real people, and the mechanics are simple but not in a way that detracts from the gameplay. I completed four separate campaigns, and I can vouch for the replay value. In short: the strengths are many.

While Orwell suffers from few shortcomings, said shortcomings do exist. The name "Orwell" caught my attention, but ultimately I wish Osmotic Studios had chosen a different title. If the creators had trusted players to notice the references to George Orwell throughout the game, the final product would have felt a bit less clunky. It is also haunted by a lack of diversity, with very few of the characters being people of color and/or LGBT+. Some may also cite the story's brevity as a weakness, but I find its length to be acceptable given that it retails for only $9.99.

In summation, Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You offers a thrilling gaming experience at a reasonable price. The narrative, characters, and style serve as points of strength while lacking inclusivity and on-the-nose branding stick out as weaknesses. Like the game's namesake, this story raises interesting questions about the extent to which surveillance should exist. As our world becomes more and more dependent on computers and automation, the concerns raised in Orwell become increasingly relevant. If you enjoy games that focus predominantly or entirely on narrative, I strongly recommend giving this one a whirl.

Please look at the accompanying guide I have written for this game if you are interested in a detailed walkthrough!

Story: 2/2

Characters: 2/2

Mechanics: 1/2

Inclusivity: 1/2

Style: 2/2

Overall Score: 8/10

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