John (aka NeoIvan) is a longtime member of the Digital Era Entertainment team who regularly streams on Digital Era Entertainment's Twitch Channel (see schedule for days/times). He runs the NeoIvan Gaming channel on Twitch.
Hello comrades! Welcome to my review of “We. The Revolution!” and before we get started on the details, please allow me to throw you a TL;DR version to save yourself some time because I personally like to dive deep when I give a review for things.
The TL;DR = Should you buy this game? No.
Why? Glad you asked, so let’s get started!
“We. The Revolution!” developed by Polyslash and published by Klabater is a video game that puts you in the shoes of a Judge during the Revolution in 1794 C.E. France. At first glance it seems like this is going to be similar to a detective or Ace-Attorney type game where you have to figure out if the person in front of you, the player, has committed crimes or not while navigating the intrigue of the French Revolution and the terror that came with it.
The game starts with you being a Judge of the Revolutionary Tribunal of Revolutionary France. At first, it’s simply passing judgement on defendants who may or may not have committed various crimes, then after a pivotal moment in history that you oversee (the trial of Louis the 16th), your character becomes entangled in a web of intrigue where you balance trying to survive, figuring out a murder (one integral to the plot), and eventually defend the city of Paris from someone long thought dead.
The story of the game is relatively straightforward and the political intrigue was certainly good enough to keep me interested, however it goes into a nosedive when the real antagonist shows up. Without revealing too much, it’s straight out of a soap opera and it’s just as bad. If you’re clever you could see the plot twist coming a mile away and even then the impact is extremely small. The earlier mentioned murder has much more impact and importance on the story while this late-game reveal faceplants into irrelevancy.
There are two endings that I found. One where your actions are acknowledged and one where you’re unknown to history in the modern age. How do these endings come about? Completely random chance! Thanks be praised to RNGesus. There's no rhyme or reason as to how these come about, and I'll cover that later below.
Lastly do your actions impact the story? It’s hard to tell really. I followed history and executed the King and Queen of France and then just tried to proceed as I would normally play a game, but I can’t tell if your actions in court, the intrigue or the army management make a real difference outside of a “game over” screen. I suppose all actions in a video game are to prevent a game over screen, but if they lack an impact at all on the story, then why was I playing this game?
The art style was amazing to see in this game. It looked like a painting come to life and I really dug it. There aren't much, if any, moving cinematics or animations but it worked for what they wanted to present and I think it is the best part of this game. The visual appeal may be the biggest deciding factor for history bluffs at best.
The sound design was fine with some good music and nothing terrible. The voice acting can be either good or bad and the worst were scenes taken outside. The actors sounded like they were in a booth versus addressing a large crowd which removed the suspension of disbelief, but overall it wasn’t too bad. I kind of wish they all had more believable French accents though. Maybe that is because I am not a native to France nor do I speak the language, so take that as you will.
The gameplay elements are the trials you hold to pass judgement on defendants, the political intrigue, and a board-game like conquest of sections of Paris via agents and then later with an army.
The main gameplay element is the trial: the way it works is that you’re given case notes, and if you choose to read them, you get the gist of what happened according to the investigators. Through these notes you can unlock questions to ask the defendant. Each question determines whether the Jury will find the defendant innocent or guilty. Seems easy right?
At first, I honestly thought you should try to get to the bottom of the events and ask every question available to the defendant in order to pass a correct judgement, but that isn’t how this really works. At the beginning of the game, you start with three choices: innocence, prison or the death penalty. Eventually events in the game will force you to either declare the defendant innocent of the alleged crimes OR sentence them to death via guillotine. It is pretty accurate for the time so that didn’t bother me too much at first. In addition to passing judgement, you have to keep certain factions happy otherwise you incur a game over via either an angry mob, the revolutionaries forcibly removing you from your job, OR the third faction I'm about to discuss hiring an assassin to kill you. Again, at first this was simple and didn’t have too much impact on the gameplay. As you can tell from my review so far this game has many “This is good BUT” moments and by the latter half of the first act a third faction comes into play: the Aristocrats and trying to balance the happiness between all three becomes far more important than actually being a Judge which became disappointing to me. Even more so since it’s YOUR decision to determine the innocence or guilt of the defendant. The jury makes a suggestion, but could be ignored and sometimes you will have to ignore them.
It honestly no longer mattered whether the defendant actually did it or not; you had to pick which faction to please. Once that became clear, I checked out of the game. It became really simple. Find which faction hates you the most in the current case, assess whether you can withstand more hatred or please them with innocent or guilty, then unlock questions that’ll only affect the jury going in the direction that ensures continued gameplay, pick the verdict and then you end the day. This became more clear when on certain days in-game you only have minor cases or quick judgments to pass on potential crimes. These quick trials are where you decide guilty or not based on the information given. You don’t ask the defendants questions, you just declare them guilty or innocent and see how that affects your standing with the factions.
When the CORE ELEMENT of the game became a juggling match between keeping factions happy versus one requiring a more judicial approach, I was rather upset. I suppose it’s true to the period, but it felt arbitrary rather than as a result of the gameplay. Plus, did we, the player, have to suffer a game over from pissing off these factions? Why couldn’t the impact be much more profound or nuanced? This leads into the second and one very boring phase of the game: the post-trial.
After a trial has occurred, you go home and either spend time with your family that hates you or you could go gambling. The family doesn’t seem interesting at all and if you choose to spend time at home, you have to pick an activity which’ll affect certain members attitude towards you. Let me stress this is irrelevant to the entirety of the game. The bonuses each member give aren’t as big as the results of the trials you conduct so you can completely ignore their needs if you want to. You don’t interact with any of the members in a cutscene or even simple dialogues. You get a meter to fill. That’s it. Simple, but not effective at connecting the player to these characters. Especially when you learn your wife is extra mad at you and does things at the end. Again no spoilers, but yeah let me say you can’t win with the family and this entire gimmick would have been better off cut from the game.
I never did the gambling stuff, but the mechanic of RNG wasn’t appealing to me. That being said, this became important to the plot later and then decided the actual ending to the game. Basically how it works is thus: You have six or more dice. You roll them and you need to get multiple dice the same number to determine points at the end of the round. While it is simple, it’s also SUPER random and unrewarding. Best to just skip the option to gamble as it’s just boring and full of game-rage potential more than anything else.
Further along in the game, you get into the political intrigues of Revolutionary France. This was the most interesting part of the game and it is frustrating how limited this role was. You use your position as a Judge to get your foot into the intrigue and then have to play it as best to your ability or rather by your influence points. This is the game's currency and you use it entirely to unlock the ability to read moods of crowds and individuals, which will help you pick a dialogue option to influence them to your desired outcome. In addition, you can assign agents to handle tasks and you get a percentage chance of success, which I enjoyed because it felt like you were really part of a plot to affect the Revolution. It’s simple, but unlike the rest it’s effective because if you fail or succeed it feels like there was some impact to your decision.
However, this part of the game isn’t just talking to people, you also have to use agents on a Map of Paris to get sections under your influence which unlocks bonuses, extra influence points or helps build a statue. This is also rather boring and inconsistent. You and your unknown enemy that is also intriguing against you, move these agents on a map to secure sectors and there are only three agent types: diplomat, guard and spy so it is basically rock-paper-scissors except the guard wins nearly all fights unless it’s with another guard from the enemy then you automatically lose the fight. Seems rather inconsistent, as I mostly thought why can’t both agents be injured and removed from the board for a day? In addition, there is a third opponent on the board with two agents of their own that try to seize other agents or cause a sector to riot and force you to lose the bonuses lest you spend agent actions trying to calm the potential riot down.
In addition to this, one such mentioned bonus is helping to build a statue near your home. Why? I don’t remember as it wasn’t important unless the time in game advanced close to “finish” a section of the statue otherwise you lose reputation and happiness with factions. Again, it wasn’t important to the story or even gameplay-wise. As the game progress you could also unlock additional building to provide extra feats that can potentially help you on the board, but I barely ever used them so don’t bother.
Lastly the gameplay also throws in a battle mechanic. At the end of the game, you have to defend Paris with an army and when battles occur it is again a Rock-Paper-Scissors affair. This was slightly less boring which was good because I was already tired of this game and wanted to play something else for hours. The basic mechanic to this is you have three lines: the first line of troops does stabbing, the second line is for shooting and the third line is reserved for artillery which shoots everything, is rare to get and easy to die from anything. You win by killing the entire enemy force your current section faces. You can manage the battle yourself or choose a general to do it for you at no cost to influence.
Now in this final phase of the game, after each day you can receive reinforcements based on your reputation. The higher your reputation, the more and better units can be recruited. Now ,I never mentioned your reputation before because it didn’t matter until this phase at the very end. You also couldn’t move troops into sections that are going to experience a battle, so the day before you have to position them into sections you think might get attacked.
For the most part, this final phase was serviceable. The largest problem is that by the time you get here, you'll have mentally checked out and didn’t really care like I did. At all. I wanted the game to be over and done with.
At the end comrades, I felt that the game was far too arbitrary with it’s mechanics, the impact of your actions was negligible, the story became a soap-opera level of nonsense and stupidity, and lastly the ending based on an RNG mechanic. LET ME TELL YOU, if you decide to take away player agency and activeness in how a game ends you chose poorly. Letting RNGesus take the wheel for your game ending is super insulting, arbitrary and unnecessary. I recommend in the future the developer Polyslash actually let players play to determine how things end.
Maybe this game wasn’t fun or interesting for me, but if you have it and enjoy it then good on you! I am happy for you to find joy in this game!
If you want a score or a grade I’d give this game the following: 6 out of 10 OR a D+. Overall the ideas behind it may have been good, but the execution rolled away like a head after it met the guillotine.