History is full of terrible decisions mixed with lessons learned. One part of history that I wouldn’t say that I am well versed in is the French Revolution. Well, Polyslash is giving me the chance to get at least a good idea of the historic event by bringing their narrative-driven adventure game We. The Revolution to consoles. While the game takes some liberties at changing history based on player’ choice, it finds ways to stay consistently entertaining throughout its multiple Acts.
We. The Revolution has players assume the role of Alexis Fidèle, a judge who struggles with his home and work life. This is made clear from the very beginning as the opening of the game has you decide the fate of his child. Through this interaction, Alexis must give a Guilty or Not Guilty verdict after presented with the evidence which states that his son caused a fight and hurt another child.
Through this opening case, we learn that Alexis isn’t really close with his family at all and instead spends his time drinking or dwelling on the divide of the common folk and the revolutionist. This divide plays a huge part in the game’s mechanics throughout the entire game. Not only does Alexis need to worry about how his family views him, but he also has to take into consideration what the people think about him.
It’s not an easy balance by any means either. There are crucial choices that at the time sounds like the best option, but then later down the line have an effect on a different aspect of Alexis’ life. Understanding what type of judge you want him to be could determine how quickly you move up the ranks, but then again, even if he pleases government officials, his family life might be ultimately hurt because of it.
During court, players are presented with documents of the crime, it could range from vandalism to rape and every other charge in between. It’s up to the player to review the documents and piece together the events to unlock questions to as the accused. What is interesting about this is how the evidence can be used to sway the jury to a certain outcome. Sure, you could go against their suggestion, but they’ll remember that and perhaps use it against Alexis later on. I honestly, despised the type of judge that I found myself becoming. I often sided with bad guys based on lack of evidence or because I felt bad for them. However, even this way of playing the game has its consequences as your action have a direct effect on the people and revolutionist.
Additionally, players can use their influence to gain the upper hand in court. Influence also plays a part in gaining the trust of crowds since they can riot if things get a little too out of hand. What’s interesting is how you are able to change the biggest parts of history by setting free individuals who were actually executed. I personally would have been fine with just the crowd control and courtroom portions of the game, but there are a few more mechanics that get introduced after the first few hours.
In order to get the city in order, players will need to move pieces around town in a tactical style of gameplay. This way, their influence spreads, but there is always a chance to receive push back from the people. The sim like mechanics was a huge surprise to me since I wasn’t expecting this to be a part of the game. Customizing things like your seal and the statue are just more things that the game allows you to do that add a touch of uniqueness to these historical moments.
We. The Revolution has some nice character arcs, but it’s not easy to keep everyone happy in your family. The story sections in the game are pretty text-heavy and can typically fill the screen with text. This makes things a bit tough to read, especially while playing the game in the Switch’s handheld mode. While the cutscenes have voiced audio, none of the in-game audio is voiced which ends up hurting the immersion as I got lost in the text. Also, the way things are laid out, there’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to piecing together the evidence which can be a little vague at times.
The sound design in We. The Revolution presents all the sounds and background chatter of a courtroom and the busy streets of France, but the music is a little on the low side. Graphically, I thought the character designs were awesome. I really enjoyed how the main protagonist has just portrayed as a simple man and not some hunky hero or charming young revolutionist. His life has complicated issues that sometimes he brings home with him. He is constantly at odds with the choices he makes and often wonders if he’s doing the right thing. This humanizing approach to the main protagonist made the game mediocre second act nearly unnoticeable since all I wanted to do was learn more about Alexis and see the conclusion of his story.
We. The Revolution tells a brilliant story of a history that most western players won’t recognize. The writing in the game is gripping and unapologetic when it comes to presenting hard to swallow topics. There’s a point during the game where you question all the choices that you made up until then, but there’s really no going back. You have the lives and futures of these individuals in the palm of your hands and the weight of your decision is a heavy one to carry. I appreciate the game for that and applaud the developers for creating a game that mechanically works with a branching narrative that gives relatable consequences to your actions.
We. The Revolution is a game that adventure visual novel and historical fans would greatly enjoy. The game lacks a large amount of voiced audio, but reading never hurt anyone, unless you strained your eyes trying read it on the Switch’s handheld screen. Regardless, I had a great time with this game and even though I would love to go back to make new choices, I will live with the consequences of my actions, such is life.
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