*Spoiler free review*
I was planning on doing a Ramble video for Orwell’s Animal Farm. Shos of some footage and have a little chat about the game. But to do so would take away from the impact of the game. You really should go into it blind to get the most from Nerial’s Point & Click political adventure.
Based on the novella of the same name Orwell’s Animal Farm takes place on a farm and explores the themes of the novella really well. In Animal Farm George Orwell looks at power and corruption and the effect they have on society. Whilst it is a subject covered in many forms of media over the decades, this is the first time I have seen a direct telling of the story, rather than using it for ideas in a wider story.
Orwell’s Animal Farm is far from perfect both in terms of the ideas presented in the writing and the game itself. However, it achieves what it sets out to do. Which is to raise questions and provoke discussion.
I don’t mean wider discussion either; I am talking more about internally. No matter your political, leanings, Orwell’s Animal Farm manages to force yourself to question your own beliefs and your current lives in the wider world. Orwell isn’t providing you direct answers (although his ideals are clear in his writings) but rather guide you into coming to your own conclusions. It is true of his writing, as it is of the media created from them. Thus it is also true within this particular experience.
The Point & Click mechanics are all present and correct and it allows the story to be told whilst giving you a feeling of control. If you’ve read the book you’ll notice some actions will keep you within the actual events of the original story, but others will take you away from that. Things that Orwell himself would have never seen, but clearly based on what he understood.
I say ‘feeling of control’ because as interesting as the game is and as compelling as the story remains 75 years after first being published. The decisions you make within the game seem to have little effect on the overall outcome. It seems to boil down to ‘do you take path A or path B’.
Here is the clever thing though Nerial were behind the wonderful Reigns games and they managed to make the binary choices feel a lot deeper and nuanced than they actually were. This is something they achieve to great effect in Orwell’s Animal Farm.
What fascinated me more than anything, was that I completely lost track of time playing Orwell’s Animal Farm. I got through a first play-through in a few sessions. I was drawn in from the start to the conclusion. Everything is balanced really well, and the pacing is spot on. Though, as someone who has read Animal Farm, I was taken aback by some of the deviations. Yet that only cemented my interest further.
The sign of a good game with a well-told story is how long it remains with you after you finish playing. Well, with Orwell’s Animal Farm I struggled to sleep that night. I had so much going around my head, that I couldn’t settle.
Yet here is the thing. Orwell’s Animal Farm isn’t a game I will have in any end of year lists. Why? I honestly couldn’t say. Objectively it is average across the board, with the writing only elevated because of the source material. There have also been much better Point & Click games out there in almost any previous year.
You really should buy Orwell’s Animal Farm and experience at least once, if you’re familiar with Orwell’s novella then you’ll find this a fascinating take on it. If you have never experienced Animal Far directly, then you especially should give this a shot. The original is such an important piece of literature that hopefully, the game can tempt you into reading it for yourself.