Parents' Guide to

Orwell: Ignorance Is Strength

By David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Confusing secret ops sim plays with online truth and lies.

Game Mac, Windows 2018
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This ambitious investigation game tasks you with uncovering the truth as it really is or as you'd prefer it to be, but its intrigue gets so overcomplicated that it loses some fun. It's almost difficult to judge Orwell: Ignorance Is Strength, because like its subject matter, it's a little complicated. In the good column? Chances are you haven't seen or played anything quite like this before. It scores points for addressing contemporary concerns and keeping you on your toes: You investigate truth by diving into a growing web of people's internet histories, phone records, social media accounts, and even personal computers that all change in real time as you gather what you're looking for and what you think you're looking for. Think of it as a turn-based world and internet strategy game, where your turns consist of banking flagged pieces of information with your partner. They can only form theories and plans of action based on what you show them, and in exchange they can share what they're thinking with more color and context for what you're logging. You'll catch people in lies and will have to decide whether it was an honest mistake or someone not realizing they'd be caught contradicting themselves. Not every lie or every piece of information you find is relevant or accurate: You have to pay attention to what you're reading and make active decisions based on what to do with what you're seeing.

The downside? This game can quickly get daunting and confusing. Frequently you'll have no clue what to do next, even if your objectives (e.g., find out whether someone's alibi is truthful, or clarify what their relationship with another person was) are clear. Sometimes you're racing against the clock (before someone's inflammatory blog post will be published), but sometimes you just get stuck and will wonder what you missed in a data bank that sprawls over hundreds of pages and articles. The game's simplistic handling of truth and where it truly lies -- that is, between the lines and not awkwardly explained in a deleted document on someone's computer -- often complicates the act of investigating. Nevertheless, this is a game that's worth a shot if you're looking for something a little different and are comfortable with getting lost for long stretches.

Game Details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: Surprise Attack
  • Release date: February 22, 2018
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
  • Last updated: March 8, 2019

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