This Jump Ahead January card is a little strange since this game has already been released but I think it falls into the realm of "game I'm excited to play this year". Developed by Double Zero One Zero (literally a pair of Swedish folk), The Westport Independent is described as a game about censorship, corruption, and newspapers. The synopsis of the game is just as heavy:
As the Editor of one of the last independent newspapers in the country, your job is to remove and edit the content of your paper, affecting the people's opinion from both the rebels and the Loyalist government. With an increase of rebel activity and an ever watching government breathing down your neck, whose trust will you print?
It seems the game's main mechanic, other than being a censorship simulator, is the moral and ethical dilemmas the player might find themselves in while they play the game.
The game is strangely reminiscent of 2013's breakout indie title, Papers, Please. In that game, you were playing someone who worked at a border of an Eastern Bloc country who checked passports. Not only does The Westport Independent fall in the same sort of political and ethical genre that Papers, Please does, it also looks similar when it comes to the art-style.
The colors are drab, the text blocky, and at times overly simplistic. But all of these things add to the world and the aesthetic of the game. It's almost as if you can see the oppression or the corruption in the screenshots (or if you just bought this game on a whim like me, during gameplay).
One of the reasons I'm extremely excited to play this game as soon as I get some free time (probably this weekend) is because I'm interested in what it has to say about the role of the media -- in this case newspapers -- in the world. The main game mechanics involve censoring certain paragraphs and maybe changing the headline in order to make the article in question come off a little differently.
It's an interesting exploration of censorship and I think this game -- as more people play it -- will reach the same kind of notoriety that Papers, Please did. It's a game that'll push the player to think about the actions within the game and maybe it'll even make some think about the world around them and the way they receive information.
What do you all think about Indie games like this? Interesting? Boring? Cool? Fun? Weird? Let me know in the comments!
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