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    Feb 14th, 2018 at 13:17:33     -    This is the Police (PC)

    Game Log 2, Part 2 – This Is the Police

    This play session was less eventful than the last. There weren’t as many story snippets, and the gameplay has started to get tedious. Still, the game keeps throwing hard choices at me just by nature of its mechanics. Every situation I have to send police for requests the best officers, and I can’t afford to send the best all of the time. Meanwhile the mafia keeps asking for favors and threatening me when I don’t help them out. A couple of times I just went straight down the corruption rabbit hole and did what they needed so they didn’t show up and murder the main character in his sleep.

    The kicker here is that city hall is barely any better. Between “fire all black cops” and “use firearms on a feminist protest,” I’m realizing how terrible the situation really is for the city, and for the main character. The two organizations that can make or ruin me (the mafia and city hall) are both awful. No one is giving quests, so to speak, for acting like a decent human being, and with resources stretched thinner as the levels go on, it’s getting harder and harder to get by while doing the right thing.

    This game reminds me of Papers, Please in some ways, but the more dangerous, stressful, evolved version of it. In Papers, Please, you could do the right thing all the time if you played your cards right. In this game you can try to do the right thing, and it still ends up with people dead. As hard as that makes the experience of playing, I admire that the game just goes for it in that regard. I just hope there are more plot advancements next time, or the day-to-day gameplay is going to get even more tedious moving forward.

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    Feb 13th, 2018 at 23:25:21     -    This is the Police (PC)

    Game Log 2, Part 1 - This Is the Police

    When I started This Is the Police, I had no idea how much of a downer it was going to be, but I quickly found out that the game doesn’t sugarcoat anything. The story is miserable, most of the choices you make are between one bad option and another bad option, and the main character is hard to like. It took a while to get to the actual gameplay, and once I was there I lost officers left and right. Yet despite the grim nature of it all, the game is strangely engaging, throwing complicated moral questions at me rapid-fire. For example, should I send fewer cops than recommended to a crime in progress because another crime may happen soon after? Do I fire the elderly cop because she can’t do her job properly anymore? Do I give someone a day off to help their friend, keeping them loyal to me, but endangering the city? Needless to say, the game is a high-stress experience.

    I got through the first week or so in my first play session (the game covers 180 days according to an early cutscene), and ended up faced with a choice: Do I agree to help out the mafia to save my friend’s life, or do I let him get murdered for being in a situation he got himself into? I considered helping him, but decided that I’d rather not have the complication of dealing with the mafia while trying to balance the needs of the city and my employees, so I told him no, trying to think of the bigger picture.

    As a result of this choice, I got to close out the session with a graphic picture of this friend and his family all dead, and a call from the mafia saying I was going to work for them anyway, or else. This result really got to me, and made me want to go back and try the other option. I actually felt culpable for what happened, which often doesn’t happen for me in games with moral choices. I suspect that it worked here because there wasn’t a clear ‘good’ or ‘evil’ choice presented. Each one appeared to have its pros and cons until after the choice, when I found out nothing good came from refusing to help Kendrick. It was quite the emotional ride, and I’m interested to see what happens next.

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    Jan 18th, 2018 at 08:56:46     -    1979 Revolution: Black Friday (PC)

    Game Log 1, Part 3 - 1979 Revolution: Black Friday

    This play session wasn’t as intense as the last. After almost getting beat up due to forgetting about the quick time events in this game, I ended up wandering around a theater for a while, reading everything, talking to everyone, and fighting with the directional controls as the camera changed angles. I got stuck in the theater for a while, lost as to what to do next until I finally found the exit in a corner. I nearly got beat up again here due to an unlucky picture of the protagonist’s SAVAK brother in a book the previous aggressor had on hand, but this time I was saved by the plot as Bibi (one of the leaders of the group in the theater) came to my rescue.

    The whole scene in the theater was a nice break from the action before it, and the game seems to be pacing itself well. After I got rescued, the action picked up again, with the authorities finding the theater. The speaker from the event outside asked me to quickly identify who stabbed him from the group of people I’d found around the various rooms, and I had no idea who it might have been, so I picked randomly.

    The next scene was back with the interrogator, and he brought up the lovely revelation that the guy I picked was killed shortly after and buried in a shallow grave. This understandably freaked the protagonist out, and the interrogator tried to make the case that the camera I used to get a bad quality photo of the stabbing was, in fact, a murder weapon.

    After the interrogator left, the protagonist’s brother got angry that I didn’t cooperate with the interrogator earlier, telling me that it was my job to ensure their family was safe. With that, the chapter ended, and I concluded my play session there.

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    Jan 17th, 2018 at 19:15:59     -    1979 Revolution: Black Friday (PC)

    Game Log 1, Part 2 - 1979 Revolution: Black Friday

    If I had to describe playing this game in one word, it would be intense. I picked up where I left off last play session – in the streets during a massive demonstration – and continued to wander around and take photographs. Like last time, I read every snippet of history I could find, and tried to interact with everything I could. At this point, the tone of the game had switched from dark and terrifying to bright and energetic, with upbeat music and commentary from the protagonist’s friend. It stayed that way until I finally reached the front of the protests, at which point the army came in and grabbed the main speaker. Another friend of the protagonist threw rocks at the soldiers, then someone chucked an explosive, and from there it all went nuts.

    After running for my life and nearly losing my camera, I had to pull shards of glass out of a man’s head and bandage him up, and then grab any evidence that he had been there, since it turned out he was the speaker that nearly got hauled away. The game then cut back to the interrogation room the story started in, which I had mixed feelings about. I was glad it happened in a narrative sense, since it made the first scene there make more sense – they needed to establish the place so they could go back there throughout the story – but the scene and choices that followed were rough. I had to pick between spilling all the secrets to the interrogator, or watching my character’s brother get tortured as he begged me to cooperate. The choices were timed, and the timer ran out as I freaked out over which one to pick.

    As the scene went on, I started to notice something strange about the interrogator. The “learn more” button said that he is based off of a real person, but the way his actions in the game fit so perfectly with the narrative made him feel less than real. An archetype, in a way. I have to wonder if this might be a danger of converting history into a structured narrative – it removes it from real life enough that it doesn’t feel real. Though doing this might help people become emotionally invested, and thus able to remember facts more easily, does it diminish the sense that the things depicted more or less really happened?

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