Games about current events are rarely good, because they’re about as subtle as a political attack ad. A platformer with a politican’s face pasted on the main character is the equivalent of a 1940’s propaganda cartoon, with half the subtlety.
Some games, like Kettle, are starting to get it right, however. Judicial Review manages to walk that tightrope between subtlety and relevance well. The game is set in a world where the British Prime Minister has instituted reforms to the judicial system to ensure that those who are “clearly guilty” don’t get off scot-free. This comes in the form of trial-by-media. You are given a series of news articles about a case and asked to render a guilty verdict, which will be legally binding. You render this verdict by scanning through articles and collecting bits of text as evidence, then making your choice between the suspects that appear in the text.
The writing of the articles feels very authentic, with some authors straining to provide some modicum of objectivity while others clearly have an ax to grind. Anyone who appears in the articles can be a suspect, and in order to get the whole story you have to convict some of the minor players as a “what-if” scenario to see their ending.
The endings are what really set it apart, the articles themselves feel very mundane, but the endings are where the author’s intent really shines. It’s clear there’s consequences for how you choose to read the news articles.
Talking Points: What does this say about the modern media? The judicial process? Is this a good critique of the news media? Is this a game that anybody who reads the news would understand?