1979 Revolution: Black Friday

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
1979 Revolution: Black Friday Game Poster Image
Tense, captivating, violent, personal recreation of history.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can glean a general awareness of historical events, explore empathy for people in other countries, and better contextualize what's happening with Iranian people today. But this game probably shouldn't be played by children -- wait for them to be closer to the teenage years, due to the depictions of torture and other troubling scenarios. This game paints the reality of Iran's situation in approachable terms. 1979 Revolution: Black Friday leaves it up to you to decide what you think and maybe even explore research, conversations, and further reading on Iran.

Positive Messages

Why people do what they do intentionally distorted. Everyone believes their cause is right, their actions justified, but it's up to you to decide what's right for you, your character in interacting with them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are virtuous, less virtuous characters here, but everyone bends, and violence is always an option that isn't too far away. Depends on who you want to be, but at least you get to see consequences for what's done, not done.

Ease of Play

Controls can be a little clunky at times, especially when you're interacting with objects in environments, but learning curve is very low. 

Violence

Scenes with torture, fighting not glorified, but intentionally ugly portions of gore, blood.

Sex

Insinuations about a female character's sex life; characters mocked for associating with her. 

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a downloadable adventure that's a retelling of the events in Iran that year, which led to the overthrow of Iran's Shah Reza Pahlavi, a monarch backed by America and other Western powers. It's meant to be educational in a broad sense, by giving a personal and historical perspective that typically doesn't get much play in Western mainstream media. It's an exploration of politics, empathy, and tough decisions amid some very high stakes. There are insinuations about a female character's sex life, and characters are mocked for associating with her. The game is full of violence, which is representative of the historical time period, with scenes of torture and fighting, as well as gore and blood.

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What's it about?

1979 REVOLUTION: BLACK FRIDAY opens in 1980 with the Iranian Revolution one year already in the past, with photographer Reza being cornered by a torturer trying to extract from him why he did the things he did. Confusion, doubt, and poker-facing happen while the rest of the story gets told, largely in flashbacks. You come to meet and define the relationships you formed long ago that led you to where you are when the game starts, which continues to advance the plot among dips back to the past. You're given opportunities to decide what sort of revolutionary you were (violent or nonviolent, compassionate or self-righteous) and ultimately have to answer for who you were and what you did, regardless of why. 

Is it any good?

Since this adventure isn't intended to be a game "just" to be fun, it's worth stating that what it lacks in visual prowess and pacing it more than makes up for with its writing, acting, and music. These things ultimately carry you through moments where sections play weirdly or awkwardly; the best example are self-conscious additions of game-like sections, such as portions where you're prompted to take photos, but the focus erratically shifts on its own and you have to patiently wait for it to align in a mini-game to get what you think you need. This is similar to Telltale Games titles, which 1979 takes cues from; it also drops in fights and chases meant to change up the flow but instead hinders the story progression, which is the main attraction here. 1979 also ditches inventory management, leaving you free to wander, explore the scenery, talk to characters, and focus most of all on soaking it all up. 

And if you've never heard of the 1979 Iranian Revolution or paid much attention to that area of the world, this is a fantastic introduction and primer on understanding its history. But what it really does well is personalize and make something that seems stodgy and inaccessible (history), showing how one person's story intersects with many others'. That said, it does feel as though the game tries to be fuzzy about which faction espouses which beliefs (possibly in an attempt to demonstrate how groups get radicalized and subvert their original causes), which may spur people to do further research and reading after playing. If they don't, they might wind up with misinformation.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about religion and how it can split or divide families. Reza's brother became an enforcer for the powers he came to try to help overthrow. How does this happen to? Why does it happen?

  • Can a video game educate people better than a book or a movie about a complicated period of time? In what way? In what way would a book or a movie be better?

  • If you found yourself getting involved with a revolutionary movement, how would you try to assure that you followed your personal code of ethics? What would you do if you saw something happening that you didn't agree with?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Subjects: Social Studies: citizenship, geography, global awareness, government, historical figures, history, power structures
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, asking questions, deduction, investigation, logic, making conclusions
    Self-Direction: goal-setting, initiative, personal growth, set objectives
    Emotional Development: developing resilience, empathy, handling stress, labeling feelings, moving beyond obstacles, persevering, perspective taking, self-awareness
    Communication: asking questions, conveying messages effectively, listening, multiple forms of expression, presenting
  • Price: $11.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: iNK Stories
  • Release date: April 26, 2016
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures, History
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions

Themes & Topics

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