We. the Revolution is an interesting, yet awkward, game to write about. On the one hand, it has an engaging tale to weave, filled out by your actions and choices that keeps you invested. On the other, the player is bombarded by mechanics and systems that seem to never stop coming – and can make things overly confusing.
Starting off, you play as a Judge on the Revolutionary Tribunal, who is not in the best stead with the people. Accusations of alcoholism and gambling addiction smear what should be your good name. You’ll need to carefully navigate the cases presented to you each day, for fear of dragging your name further through the mud. Additionally, there are many, many actions and events that will present themselves outside of the court room – these will feed in to your reputation as well as affect the city of Paris’ citizens. Choices not only matter here, but are final.
There’s no double checking allowing you to back out – just the cold reality of actions having consequences. It’s an admirably bold approach, though options can at times be unclear leading in to repercussions that you could not have foreseen. In terms of the actual cases themselves, it’s here things are at their most straightforward – thought that’s not saying much. You’re presented with the accused, several pieces of supporting evidence and your ledger to review notes and transcripts. Reading through the notes, there are several important details highlighted for ease of use – these come in handy when piecing together questions later.
These are well written and laid out, giving you just enough flavor to get you in the mindset of an 18th century French judge. Seeped in Revolutionary aggression, as well as superstitions and propaganda, you’ll not get far looking at things with a modern eye. Once happy with your understanding of the accusation, you can begin questioning. It’s here that things start to get a bit more involved. Questions need to be unlocked via an options wheel, with several possible lines of inquiry around the edge that, once selected, have further modifiers available. You need to link each subject with the right approach in order to unlock a question – which is easier said than done.
While the evidence papers have helpful pictures next to the highlighted text, matching the selections on offer here, oftentimes choosing whether that equates to being a motive, extenuating circumstance, course of events, or such, can be counter intuitive or unclear. Only a few mistakes can be made before the entire question creation system shuts down, effectively rendering your trial unfair, and nigh on impossible to get the true result. Sentencing someone to the guillotine on just a handful of questions feels… suitably shady. But this all plays in to the role play of the game, and makes you ponder your actions more than you may otherwise do.
So once you have your questions, each one offers up a hint as to which way the jury will sway, allowing you to ask all of them, or simply the ones that will get you the desired result. Asking them will play out a little narrative between Judge and accused, often times with input from a baying crowd. There’s just enough rebel rousing and rebuttals thrown in to give a decent impression of an historical courtroom, with your assistant investigator playing the role of bad cop – putting down defendants and pundits alike while you concentrate on getting to the result.
Stay on the jury’s good side, and you can see what they recommend in terms of outcome, which will generally help out the Revolution’s cause. Go against them, and not only will it weaken your stature, but also prevent you from gaining their help. As with every aspect of choice in WTR, pros and cons must be weighed thoroughly before committing – there’s no going back and no double check prompt. I found the characters I met in court to be generally well written, with some good characterization making me truly ponder if sentencing them either way was really the right thing to do.
There’s plenty more to consider than just what happens in the court room though. While choices here will affect your standing in the city, you also have your family to manage, political allies and foes to manipulate and support, a statue to construct, and a power game to win in order to take back control of Paris. Randomly generated events will pop up from time to time – the result of decisions – that you’ll need to deal with. Whether these be choosing to intervene (or not) in a couple of drunkards brawling, or allowing guards to quell (or not) a riot with force, the game constantly has you on the back foot, never allowing you to rest on your laurels and let things play out. In order to secure more favorable outcomes, Influence points can be accrued and spent, but there’s only so many to go around.
If anything, though, there’s just too much going on at once for my liking. I like having narrative choices in games – especially when they actually matter (unlike Telltales output for the most part), but here there’s so much choice that in the end I could never really get too invested, as things all came apart seemingly regardless of my attempts. There are dialogue ‘battles’, in which you must first pick a desired path through choosing a mood relating to a sentence, after which you’re shown whether that was right or not, before playing out the actual dialogue and choosing said moods again, this time for real. If you were on the right path, it’ll be green so you know which way to go – red means you’re in for a bad time and to pick another option, though you’re on your own to figure it out.
Too often, I found myself simply bewildered by outcomes that seemed to follow no real logic and I’d end up just guessing and hoping for the best. If you can get past the absolute inundation of systems though, there’s a good, compelling narrative here. Interplay between characters is well written (and acted in some parts) and seeing consequences appear from actions earlier in the story and how it alters it is interesting. Some sequences can play on a little long, but rarely did I lose too much interest in what was going on, even if there are so many names being thrown around that I did lose track a few times.
We. the Revolution is a well written, decent narrative puzzle game that doesn’t shy away from the brutality of 18th century France. The game makes an intriguing habit of forcing you to face your actions head-on, with far reaching consequences that can alter the plot in ways you rarely expect. The only drawback is that it’s very convoluted due to its many systems and its abundance of relationship balancing, ultimately making for a lot of guesswork.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.