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1979 Revolution: Black Friday Review

1979 Revolution: Black Friday Review

Choices -- this is something that is touted in lots of adventure games these days, thanks to the Telltale System. You punch someone, it comes up saying “They’ll remember that”, and an episode or so later they will huff about that time you belted them. Usually that’s it.

So when I saw 1979 Revolution: Black Friday would require you to make life and death decisions, I was intrigued. What was more intriguing was the fact that it isn’t just the name of the game. In 1979, the country of Iran was in turmoil as the populace rose up against the Shah -- the ruling royal family. By all accounts, the country was being run similarly to a dictatorship: and speaking of all accounts…

The story of 1979 Revolution isn’t fictional. Of course, there are fictional elements, and names are changed where appropriate, but it bills itself almost as a documentary, filled with real life accounts from people who lived in Iran back then. Admittedly more of an interactive movie with quicktime elements, it kind of felt like playing Telltale’s Game of Thrones. Great story, well written, but lacking in game. You play as a photographer, Reza, and so as you explore Tehran, you take pictures of many of the scenes present at the time: protesters mainly.

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Yes, I know it says 1978... The revolution took place in 1979

As you may expect, 1979 in Iran was a time where the people all came together, quite literally. As you walk through Tehran, there are a ton of NPCs present, both for the photo ops and for exploring the rich background seeded throughout the game. Unfortunately these crowd scenes can lose some of their oomph, when you notice the exact same NPC stood next to him or herself. Even worse when you see three of them!

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"We are trying to be the world's most identical twins!"

The graphics themselves are in keeping with the “It’s like a Telltale game” theme, due to it actually looking like one. This isn’t a bad thing, as they are simple yet effective at looking like real people. Photographs, like everything else, are rendered by the in-game engine, whilst they are in the game world or background, but you do get to see the real thing in most cases when you make Reza take it or pick it up.

As I said, Revolution is pretty much an interactive documentary. You explore the things that Reza came across in the run up to the infamous (and titular) Black Friday, which opens up things for you to read in the glossary. The developers have really made an effort to introduce people to Iranian culture. For instance, I now know that it is impolite to both not offer tea to a visitor, as well as refuse tea offered by a host.

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Can you tell which was taken by a real person? Yes, it IS the black & white one...

There have been a few games recently that have been based on true events, and want to show you how absolutely fucked up the world is. If there was a Gaming Oscars, then 1979 Revolution: Black Friday would be a strong contender for the Best Picture equivalent. It perfectly illustrates how intense the situation in Tehran must have been, before things ultimately turned violent.

In a short time -- because you can easily get through the game in less than two hours if you’re not interested in reading the glossary -- it really pulls on your emotions. The time you have to make choices is often barely enough to read all four options, which really will add an urgency to your decision making. The characters are well written, yet polarising, adding extra weight to the situation as they make their positions clear to you.

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You have to choose really quickly, sometimes...

Given the setting, I have to say that I would very much like to see more from the studio based in this world. The story absolutely captivated me as I tried to decide who to trust, and where to pledge my allegiance. The choices you make do matter more than a Telltale game, but unfortunately not for the ending. If you want to play through again, making different choices, then I would definitely recommend you do so as there are different outcomes for each chapter. Some of them end the game with “You died”, but not all of them.

There are minigames which break up the constant narrative, such as bandaging someone up and taking tons of photos, but ultimately 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is much more of an interactive story than a game. It just so happens to be a story which is so well written and performed, that it will make you wonder about yourself as a person.

8.50/10 8½

1979 Revolution: Black Friday (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

There are minigames which break up the constant narrative, such as bandaging someone up and taking tons of photos, but ultimately 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is much more of an interactive story than a game. It just so happens to be a story which is so well written and performed, that it will make you wonder about yourself as a person.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan

Editor

Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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COMMENTS

dominoid
dominoid - 10:21am, 15th May 2016

This sounds great, might have to get me a copy of this. 

Reply