Placing a player into the shoes of a character is one of the most challenging goals of game design. However, I believe that 1979 Revolution: Black Friday achieved that with one simple game mechanic: photography. This year's IndieCade was a different mixed bag because the best games don't have the most obvious booths; one "booth," or floor space in the USC soundstage is the same as the next. We had the best luck in sitting down at the 1979 Revolution booth and getting introduced to the game, which can be best described as a choose-your-own-adventure set in Iran.
In this title—which won Grand Jury Award for IndieCade—you play as Reza, a budding photographer that is lured into revolutionary fanaticism by his brother. We definitely loved the "choose your own adventure" aspect of the game, even though we didn't have a full build to play. But it wasn't so much the design of how the game played out that drew us in—instead it was the photography aspect that taught us the history behind the fun. In every instance of photography, the game shows the real photo the player is trying to emulate that was actually taken during the 1979 riots. It's one of the most effective ways we've seen in teaching others about a historical event.
The first scene we played had Reza in interrogation. He is tortured to give answers in his involvement in the revolution. The game takes pointers from previous narrative-driven stories in that charactes often notice small interactions the player makes (such as denying an offering of tea). The graphical presentation is impressive, even for a mobile game, because it features several characters on screen at one time, probably pushing the limits of mobile use (it's also available on Steam).
Every photo taken surrounding an important event compares the character's photo to the original and tells the story behind what's happening. Stop in front of a table selling "rock-n-roll" tapes and snap a photo, then you'll learn about how the tapes are actually speeches from revolutionaries during that time. Snap another picture of people standing in line and you'll discover the economic hardship behind the oil trade and how the strike caused such a calamity. The game features an impressive voice cast of several actors, some of which have starred in major movies and TV shows, like Argo and Prison Break (Omid Abtahi and Bobby Naderi, respectively).
Check out the game on Steam or the Apple Store. INK Stories is an NYC-based independent developer focused on generating interactive stories. We'd like to dive into the game more to understand more of the history behind the game and see how Reza's story ultimately unfolds, whether it may have multiple endings or just one (hopefully a positive ending).