Aux Armes, Citoyens!
HIGH The feeling of being in Paris, 1794.
LOW A game-breaking glitch that took two weeks to be patched.
WTF It feels like a new mode is introduced every hour.
We. The Revolution is a role-playing strategy game set in Paris during the Reign of Terror. Playing as Alexis Fidèle, a fictional judge of the Revolutionary Tribunal, the player is tasked with the daily activity of determining the fates of the era’s most prominent figures.
Initially, W.tR is reminiscent of courtroom action similar to Phoenix Wright with a focus on morally weighing the evidence presented and delivering a verdict. However, the ambition of the developers is even greater — they aim to simulate the hardships civilians had to sustain throughout that time.
Alexis is caught in the middle of this struggle and evolves from a family man attempting to care for his family to a paranoid politician willing to seize control of Paris, and this ambition works phenomenally well. Instead of merely being a judge or influential politician, Fidèle is given a human dimension and feels like an actual citizen, both victim of and guilty of the Terror.
The bulk of play takes place in the courtroom. The player can freely scroll through several case files, navigating and choosing dialogue. Recall of the information is tested via a ‘linking evidence’ minigame, questions can be asked to the defendant, and witnesses can be called.
Whenever the player feels like it, a verdict can be given. If the verdict matches the jury’s opinion, it positively impacts Fidèle’s reputation as a judge. If it doesn’t, his reputation takes a hit. The results of these verdicts lead to bonuses (or limits) in other aspects of the experience.
Another consequence of his rulings is that every verdict influences the way different groups in society think about Fidèle — the Common Folk, the Revolutionaries, and the Aristocracy. For example, sentencing a corrupt landlord will win favor with the Commoners and lose favor with the Aristocracy, while acquitting a rapist that helped storm the Bastille will please the Revolutionaries but displease the Commoners.
Running out of popularity with any of the three groups means the end of Fidèle’s career and a Game Over. Luckily, Fidèle’s reputation can be easily tracked via by a convenient meter which reveals the impact every verdict will have on all three groups.
This meter is available from the start of the trial long before the verdict is given, and I referred to it often while meta-strategizing every case and looking at possible outcomes before twisting the trial in a way that would make the jury decide on the most beneficial result. In this sense, The Revolution succeeds as a historical title by putting me in the shoes of judges like Fidèle and their corrupt decisions, but at the same time, I could definitely empathize with the motives they might have had 225 years ago.
Aside from this intriguing courtroom simulation, Revolution also delivers one of the most immersive stories I’ve seen in memory since Fidèle isn’t ‘merely’ a judge — he’s a player in a political game with power over Paris as the goal.
When not in the courtroom, Revolution frequently introduces the player to characters of political importance who all have their own schemes and thirsts for power, which leads to the introduction of several new gameplay modes. Each of these modes helps develop the activities Fidèle is involved with and they contribute to a sophisticated simulation of the political battlefield. There are shortcomings, though.
For example, one mode consists of persuading characters to join Fidèle’s cause, but it’s merely choosing how Fidèle should deliver a few sentences of his message. It can be aggressive, careless, humble or manipulative, but there’s hardly any clue to which fits best — it comes off as pure trial-and-error which could have easily been improved by with actual dialogue options over tone.
Another mode consists of ‘controlling’ different districts of Paris. A map with the districts is shown, each with several tiles where I could place Fidèle’s secret agents. They would positively contribute to Fidèle’s influence in the district, but enemy agents and neutral investigators were also present on the map. This mode wasn’t appealing or thoroughly explained, but thankfully it didn’t take much time to go through each day.
Although these modes were half-baked, they were minor bumps compared to the rest of the phenomenal direction. It was genuinely exciting to ‘wake up’ and find out what happened in Parisian politics as a result of my verdicts, and als to see the political choices I made affecting who appeared in my courtroom on trial the next day. Plot developments were spicy and shocking, keeping me awake for hours on end when I should have been sleeping.
There’s not much to complain about, really. Apart from the aforementioned half-baked modes, I noticed some awkward controls including dragging the case files with a joystick — clearly designed for a mouse. Otherwise, Revolution is impressive on a technical level with smooth cutscenes, successful voice acting and a sublime art style.
For me, We. The Revolution redefined what a history game could be. The story was rich with depth and empathy for the people who lived during the Reign of Terror, and the developer’s passion could easily be felt — so much so, in fact, that I was moved to play France’s national anthem numerous times in honor of this terrible period brought to life in such a wonderful way.
— David Bakker
Disclosures: We. The Revolution was developed by Polyslash and published by Klabater and is available on PC, PS4, XBO and Switch. This copy of the game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Approximately 15 hours were devoted to the game and it was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: We. The Revolution has been rated M by the ESRB. According to the description, it contains Blood, Sexual Themes, Simulated Gambling, Strong Language and Violence. The game has visible blood and violence through animated cutscenes, and dialogue includes topics on murder, rape and violence. Heavy mutilations can be witnessed onscreen.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue is accompanied by subtitles. See above for text samples. There are no audio cues necessary for successful gameplay. This title is fully accessible.
Remappable controls: The controls of this game are not remappable and there is no control diagram. The left joystick is used to navigate through the screen and hover over options and items. The A Button is for selecting options and menus or skipping cutscenes if held. The B Button cancels modes and menus. The ZL and ZR Buttons are used to swap between layers of files and holding the ZR Button makes dragging these files across the screen possible with the left joystick. While not selecting any files, the + button opens an option menu and the ZL button shows a convenient Terror Hierarchy list. Changing pages within the game’s journal is possible with the L and R buttons.