We. The Revolution was an interesting game for me to play. It sounded right up my street where you play as a judge in the French Revolution and ultimately it’s up to you whether you want to send someone to prison, to the guillotine or whether you want them acquitted for the alleged crime.
It certainly is an interesting concept and certainly is something that should feel like an immersive experience, however, there is something the game lacks that just turns it into a forgettable experience, which is unfortunate.
So, before I go into details, let’s go onto what We. The Revolution is about. In the game, you play as a judge, who is also an alcoholic and a gambler in 18th century France during the Revolution. It starts off with a nice prologue trial, in which your son, Frederick Fidel is accused of assaulting some other lads. It’s a nice gentle case to get the feel of the game and the various basic elements of it.
Firstly, you have a case file in front of you in which you can read. Later on, the cases do give you evidence, such as letters that you have to read as well. Once you’ve read the case file, you then speak to the accused and play a very basic mini-game in which you have to link certain aspects of the case file to bits such as ‘motive’, ‘course of events’ and ‘Witnesses’. For example on the prologue case, your son was being bullied, therefore you can link the bullying to ‘course of events’ which then unlocks a question for you to ask. Yeah, pretty basic.
You’re also only allowed a certain amount of mistakes as well before it locks you out of being able to do any more links, therefore you’re not able to ask more questions in that case. Oh, and they also put traps in there as well. Although, after a few cases, it is pretty simple to see the links and unlock all the questions.
Each line of questioning also sways the jury in the game to whether they reckon the person should be acquitted of their crimes, face the guillotine or whether they should go to prison. On top of this, every faction will want you to do something different, for example, the revolutionaries will want you to give the death penalty, common folk will want you to send the person to jail and your family will want you to acquit them.
Obviously, the game becomes a bit of a balancing act between them, and even more so when the aristocrats are added to the factions as well. If any of them drop too far, then you face death yourself.
During the case, there is also a report for you to fill in. It’s basically 3 or 4 questions about the specifics of the case, such as “Did the defendant admit the crime?”. The tricky part is if you want to sway the jury to a death sentence, then you wouldn’t ask the questions that make them go the opposite way, therefore you might not have all the answers to the report, which obviously doesn’t do good with your reputation!
We. The Revolution is split nicely into three clear and distinct acts, with many cases throughout the acts, the first one, for example, has 22 cases. Between the cases, there is more and more for you to do as well. Another element early on is balancing your family happiness. You do this by choosing what you do in the evening, so you can either work on cases, which helps you with questions on the next case, but the four bars of your wife, your two sons, and your dad will take a hit. You could take your sons to a propaganda march, which will see their bars raise, but your wife and dad’s falling. It’s another balancing act within the game.
Even further along with Act 1, you’ll unlock a map of France and a district in which you own. At first, you own two agents, each of which can go into other districts and unlock them for you. It will give you more power and influence with the more districts you unlock. In your home district, you can unlock buildings which all do different things as well. For me, it seemed a bit strange that this was added in, but hey, it gave me more influence points so it wasn’t all bad.
By Act 3 in the game, We. The Revolution feels like a different game completely. It feels less about the cases and makes it feel like everything you have done throughout the game was predetermined to that specific point. Which is a shame, as throughout Act 1, most of your actions had direct consequences, but by Act 3, most of it has all been wiped out. It’s a poor end game to what starts off as an intriguing game!
Although it does have the poor end game, Act 1 is the best part of We. The Revolution by far. The story is set up nicely by telling you that gossip is going around about you being an alcoholic and gives you a choice on how to deal with the people spreading that gossip. It introduces your family and the people in the court scene well. It also builds up the events of the French Revolution and makes you feel part of it and that what you judge in the courtroom has direct consequences to the cause. Once you have finished cases, there are chances to go behind the scenes and sabotage your will politically, which gives you direct conversations with people of power.
This part of the game and the narrative was amazing, and I couldn’t fault it. However, although the story was compelling, the cases themselves were not. The more case files I read, the more I skimmed through them and became disinterested in them. I think the main reason is that you realize – about 6 or 7 cases in – that it doesn’t matter whether that person is guilty or not, you just try and balance the bars of the factions out. If your bar is low for common folk and they want the death penalty, you sway the jury to that verdict. The case file is therefore irrelevant to anything which is a shame. Maybe if you didn’t know how the jury would be swayed, then it might be more interesting, but then you wouldn’t be able to manipulate the court. It just feels like something more is needed with the cases themselves, something to make it more immersive and engaging.
I also can’t talk about We. The Revolution without mentioning the visuals of the game, especially when they’re so unique. The visual style is very similar to neoclassical art from the Revolutionary era and uses polygons to build the style, which works so well within the game. Although most of the game uses still image to explain the story, the visual style is still effective and sits well with the era the game is set in.
Overall, We. The Revolution is a difficult game to review. Although the game has a decent story behind it, a unique visual style and a mix of different genres within it, there’s something it’s missing to keep you coming back for more. Although the cases can be linked to the wider narrative, they still feel boring due to you having to balance your bars so you don’t get guillotined by a certain faction.
The concept of the game is great, playing as a judge during this historical time and being able to sentence people should be amazing. Having to manage faction happiness and essentially swaying the jury to match what the faction wants… not so amazing. The mini-game making you find the links to gain questions is also rubbish and feels unnecessary, just an element to prolong the cases. You can also ask the questions in any order and leave questions out which makes the flow of the case feel disjointed most of the time. Having a list of questions available and not knowing how the jury would be swayed would work much better and make it a more difficult task to keep the factions happy.
It’s difficult to say whether I would recommend this game. I enjoyed it, but at the same time, I really struggled to push through it. With a bit of work, the game could have been amazing, but then again, for the price, it’s selling at, it’s probably worth a try.