1979 Revolution: Black Friday Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Ink Stories
Release Date: August 2nd 2018
Price as of Article: $11.99 USD £10.79 GBP
Game code provided by Digerati for review
When it comes to games set around historical events, specifically in regards to a highly charged political revolution, it’s always going to be a touchy subject. It’s brave, ambitious and with a lot of pressure to get spot on. You can’t make a game like 1979 Revolution and get it wrong. So let’s see if this Switch port of the PC game from 2016 is up to scratch.
As 1979 is an adventure game at heart with only minimal gameplay, the story is of prime focus. Without the story, this game can not exist. Telling the story of the historical revolution in Iran in 1979, we follow a young photojournalist named Reza who’s returned from a period away from his home country of Iran only to return to witness the public uprising against the regime. Not knowing what to think about the situation, he does what he does best and captures photos of the event for the world to see.
The story is told in shifting time lines. It begins in the aftermath of the revolution where Reza is being interrogated in the notorious Evin Prison in regards to his role in what’s going on. Accused of being against the new Islamic Republic even though he was seemingly part of the protests that helped install it. In this regard, the story does pull you in thanks to this vagueness of the main characters involvement.
When trying to be as historically accurate as possible, almost to a documentary level of story telling, it’s important that the game doesn’t go in with an agenda or bias, something which slightly bothered me about similar sort of game: Wheels of Aurelia. The developers have done a great job in this aspect. I love the moral ambiguity of it all. You don’t know who is in the right, if anybody at all. Each side have their flaws. There’s no distinct bad guy aside from the interrogator and the game isn’t afraid to let you know that no one in this story is perfect.
It’s a great, commendable story and I found that I learned so much about the situation. In all honesty, this was a historic event that I had very little knowledge of. I knew of its happening, but I had little idea about its inner workings. 1979 Revolution really shined a light on it for me and made me very interested in finding out more about it by doing my own research after I had finished the game.
The only problem with 1979 is its abrupt ending. It leaves on a cliffhanger but in all honesty it doesn’t feel like it was purposely left there, more like they were forced to cut it off at some point. I have no idea if there’s a sequel in the works, if not then it’s a mild disappointment that we won’t get a satisfying conclusion.
The gameplay is what you would normally find in a narrative driven adventure game. If you’ve played any of Telltale’s famous adventure game series, then you’ll be instantly familiar with how 1979 works too. This one is even more on-rails however. It’s mostly about following the story and engaging in dialogue options. These are fairly superfluous and I’m not sure how vital they are in interfering with the story other than receiving a slightly different response from the person talking.
They do try to video game it up a little more with intermittent gameplay segments. You’ll mostly be wandering around small environments, seeing what’s going on and taking photographs. This mini-game of sorts has the camera focus going side to side and you have to take the photo as clearly as possible. In the end it doesn’t matter how out of focus the shot is, it’s only for your own sense of pride. Each photo you take then cuts to a comparison of a real life photo from the time and provides snippets of information surrounding it. I like that idea a lot.
Then there are the quick time events which I’m sure many of you despise. Usually I’m in the same boat, but that’s only when it comes to big triple-A games who have the budget to do better. This is a small adventure indie game and so it gets a pass from me. They’re not challenging unless you’re not paying attention and the visual clues are enough to make them easily doable.
That’s really it from a gameplay point of view. There’s not much to it besides enjoying the story 1979 wants to present. I suspect you yourself know if this is the type of game for you. If you need more action and gameplay then this isn’t for you at all. It’s a story wrapped in a minimal interactive experience.
The audio is very good, mainly thanks to the professional voice acting from various US based actors of Iranian descent. It’s very good and immerses you into the story very well. The music is also nicely done and is more in keeping with a movie where it often lurks in the background during conversation scenes but you do notice its quality, at least I did.
Visually the game is sadly pretty poor. I suppose for the budget and price range they’ve done pretty well, but it can be a bit of an eye sore at times and is very distracting from the story they are trying to tell. Textures are poor, character models are reused even when they’re standing next to each other. There’s no anti-aliasing which makes everything look jagged. It really does not look good at all. Just looking at the NPC’s faces says it all. They look downright bad.
The performance, too, is not great. The game chugs along at a below average frame rate which is something it really shouldn’t do. It’s not a graphically intensive game but the optimisation is not a good one. It’s very distracting and again, like the graphics themselves, it takes a lot away from the experience. It’s difficult to concentrate on the story while the game runs so badly.
The visuals and performance are easily the worst aspect of the game and it’s a shame that it does mar the experience quite a lot. The worst thing is that it shouldn’t be like this. 1979 Revolution should not be pushing the Nintendo Switch at all.
The game is £10.79 but there is 20% off for a short time which you may want to take advantage of if you’re thinking about picking it up. I think for what they’ve tried to convey with this game it’s a fair price. Some may point to the poor visuals and short length against it, but I think the interesting story is enough for me to say it’s worth it as an education and entertainment piece. If you go to the cinema these days you’ll pay just about the same price to see a movie and buy a drink.
Good voice acting
Poor visuals and performance