Game Reviews

The Westport Independent - Choosing the right thing isn't always the right thing

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The Westport Independent - Choosing the right thing isn't always the right thing

The Westport Independent fits into the same category as the likes of Papers, Please and Blackbar. It deals with censorship, with government control, and with the seeming banality of evil.

This time around you're the editor of a small newspaper in a totalitarian state, meaning the choice to censor or publish is entirely up to you.

You've got a team of four writers, and you check each story before handing them out to be typed up. You can cross out sections of the text, and choose between two different headlines.

Do you upset the government and support the rebels, do you fill the paper up with celebrity gossip, or do you tell the people what's actually happening? You've got 12 weeks to decide.

So what do you actually do?

Well, each week you need to select which stories you'd like to publish, edit them how you see fit, then give them to one of your writers.

The scribes have different personalities, different backstories, and different reactions to the content you're getting them to create. If they won't write a story you can back down, or you can force them to do it.

Once you've selected and prepared the stories you have to place them in the paper, and then choose your marketing budget for the four different regions of the city your paper appears in.

Each of the districts has a different taste, so whereas some might want industrial stories, others are more interested in celebrity gossip or tales about real crime.

On top of that you've got to consider your circulation, the public's opinion of your output, and whether or not the government suspects you of treason.

There are a lot of variables to consider. Come the end of the 12 weeks your successes are totted up, whether you've been loyal to the government or wandered down a more dangerous path. It's entirely possible some of your staff will end up dead as well.

Sounds like a cheery game

It's not really supposed to be. It's supposed to make you think about your actions, about how the simplest things can affect people in some truly abominable ways, and how the actions of government can destroy the lives of ordinary people.

It's a noble endeavour, and while it hits some pretty high notes, it can't quite match other games in the genre in terms of power.

It's smart, it's entertaining, but it slows down a little too often, and some of your choices can feel a little arbitrary.

Still, it's an important addition to the App Store, and there's a lot to do here, so long as you don't mind playing through the game multiple times to see if different choices have different outcomes.

If you haven't already played Papers, Please then that's a better place to start, but if you have, there's an awful lot here that you're going to like.

The Westport Independent - Choosing the right thing isn't always the right thing

A thoughtful examination of press censorship and its repercussions, it might not hit all the right notes, but it's still well worth a play
Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.