In The Westport Independent you play as the editor of an independent newspaper, twisting stories to suit the agenda of those you are loyal to. You can't exactly lie in what you choose to print — but you don't have to publish the truth. And what you decide to publish will change how citizens feel about the people in power and those who oppose them.
This clever critique of media is the latest from developers Double Zero One Zero, with Swedish publisher Coffee Stain Studios — the team who brought us Goat Simulator.
You play in a post-war country, governed by the recently elected Loyalist Party, who is watching every word you publish. The Rebels are counting on you, too. Your work involves editing hundreds of articles — unique to each playthrough — censoring information to change the message to what you would like readers to believe, and which side they should take.
It's not just the public who are effected by your decisions. Your newspaper staff will react to your choices and chat about them with co-workers. You'll get letters from politicians and activists. How you choose to play will ultimately change the political landscape of the city you live in (and likely make you question the media you consume IRL, too).
The aesthetic and dilemma of choice is reminiscent of Papers, Please — a political commentary about refugees, seeking asylum and border control whilst trying to keep your job so your family doesn't freeze or starve to death. Even when as you are trying to do the right thing, you find yourself questioning what the right thing actually is. Heavy.
I've got to say, this game is weird to write about. I feel like you are all judging every word I type. It makes me examine the power that I have, and the perception you, dear reader, will have about what I do. So, um, I don't do this stuff okay. I promise. Pinky promise. Uh...trust me?
The Westport Independent is available today on Steam, iOS and Android.