The third and final episode of government surveillance game Orwell: Ignorance is Strength is out now, and might be worth peeking at if you're into text-based puzzlers, or if you like the theme of state overreach and propaganda. The game has you trawl through phone transcripts, computer files, websites and news articles to uncover the truth about Raban Vhart, a dissident journalist. What sets it apart is that by compiling information 'chunks' in particular ways you can bend the truth and influence the story, which has multiple branches.
It's clever, as I wrote in my impressions of the first two episodes. You end up backtracking through previously discovered information, entering newly-uncovered names into old databases to move the story forward. At its best, you feel like a government espionage agent, and the ability to control what your superiors see—and therefore what they act on—gives you a lot of control over the story. Unfortunately, the writing lets the side down, with a few too many clichés, caricatures, and awkward dialogue sequences.
Still, your ability to influence the narrative has me intrigued enough that I'm going to try out this third episode, called Synthesis, next week. As well as government power, the game is supposed to be about control of the media, particularly social networks. It hasn't quite lived up to that billing yet, but in the third episode you finally unlock the 'influencer' tool, which was greyed out in the first two episodes. Developer Osmotic Studios says it will let you wage an "explosive media war for the control of public perception".