Wireframe

Interrogation review - asking the wrong questions

By Dave Hurst. Posted

Interrogation casts you as the leader of a crack negotiator, working hard to take down a violent terrorist organisation called the Liberation Front, who keep blowing stuff up because they’re angry about… having to pay taxes, or something.

Pinning down exactly what their motives are is one of the things you have to decide, and it’s deliberately quite muddy – more on that later.

Chapters start with an incident; a murder, a bomb threat, a hostage situation, which requires some key information or confession to be extracted from a suspect, often under a strict timer.

Essentially it’s a text adventure, in which you have to find holes in your suspect’s story and pick at them, using either empathy or intimidation to pry them open enough to squeal.

There are no motion-captured actors in sight. Just monochrome, rotoscoped slideshow people who look suspiciously like they work in a game studio.

This is a drab world, cobbled together from Polaroid snaps and concept art, a visual style that’s somewhere between Sin City and Dear Deidre’s Photo Casebook. There’s no voice acting either. The audiovisual elements are but set dressing – nothing of substance may be found there.

Given that it all hinges on the words, the writing must be exemplary, right? Well, it’s a mixed bag. There are flashes of brilliance – when you know that you’ve nearly got someone nailed to the wall, but they just won’t crack. Or, when you manage to tease flickers of empathy out of an otherwise unreachable hostage-taker.

Other times, it’s frustratingly bad. A particularly unsympathetic depiction of mental illness sticks out; in which someone with “a form of schizophrenia” is described as being especially vulnerable to extremist radicalisation, though no causal explanation is offered.

“The tragedy may have been averted if this rubbish was out on Switch”

Their depiction is cartoonishly evil, incongruous to the rest of the game. The script simply isn’t smart enough to navigate these waters with any nuance, and I wish it hadn’t bothered trying.

The Liberation Front themselves are a loose coalition of Normal People with a selection of differing and contradictory end goals. Membership includes priests, anti-fascists, communists, soup kitchen volunteers, conservative soccer moms, gun nuts, and misogynist dudebro libertarians in Hawaiian shirts.

The message is that anyone from any walk of life can be radicalised; the reality is that this comes off as fence-sitting ‘both-sides’ rhetoric, like the game is unwilling to pick an ideology for the villains for fear of being Too Political. If that’s the case, one would suggest not making a game about political extremism in the first place.

It is a mechanically competent game with some great bits of genuine tension. You may often find yourself leaning back on your chair, desperate to chain-smoke, saying things like “I’ve nearly cracked this piece of dirt” out loud.

Sometimes, it’s an annoying clickfest, where, without any obvious routes to plough, you just click every option until something sticks, at which point you’re not playing a game – you’re prodding a script engine.

Highlight

Interrogation gives you a team of staff that you can give assignments to. One of them is really bad at their job, and always gets things wrong, but is impossible to fire. So the only thing you can do with them is keep giving them the night off. It’s not really a highlight, it’s just relatable.

Verdict: 54%

A microbudget police procedural with enough good ideas and scrappy indie charm to get past its glaring problems, but just barely.

Genre: Police procedural
Format: PC (tested) / Mac
Developer: Critique Gaming
Publisher: Mixtvision
Price: £15.49
Release: Out now

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