NEW YORK (CNS) — Political intrigue, compelling writing and unique mechanics converge in the engaging stealth game “The Occupation” (Humble Bundle).
While it deals with mature topics and the plot involves acts of violence, those acts are not depicted nor is there any sexual content. Thus, although unsuitable for little kids, this is an appropriate choice for teens and their elders.
Set in the North of England in 1987, the game alternates between two perspectives. One is that of Scarlet Carson (voice of Amelia Tyler). Employed by a shadowy organization called the Bowman Carson Group, Scarlet recently survived the terrorist bombing of her workplace. Her husband, Michael — whose reason for being in the building at the time remains a mystery to her — did not.
The other primary viewpoint is that of Harvey Miller, a journalist investigating the attack on Bowman Carson. (Harvey remains silent throughout the game.)
The success or failure of Harvey’s sleuthing will have important consequences. In response to the Bowman Carson incident, as well as other terrorist strikes, the government has drafted the Union Act, a measure ostensibly aimed at protecting the United Kingdom, but one that would also restrict civil liberties and immigration. If
Harvey can discover what’s really going on, support for the legislation could dwindle.
The principal suspect in the case is Alex Dubois. An immigrant and fellow employee of Scarlet’s, Alex maintains his innocence.
“The Occupation” unfolds in real time, a fact that both sets the game apart and adds to the player’s sense of urgency. As the minutes tick away, Harvey crawls through ventilation systems to sneak into staff-only areas, eavesdrops to uncover clues and rifles through boxes of paperwork. If he’s caught where he doesn’t belong, however, he’s detained by security — and the gamer loses a precious 15 minutes.
The indefatigable Harvey can be seen as a figure dedicated not only to uncovering the truth but to promoting the common good as well. And the broader issue of the proper balance between national security and personal freedom is as significant as it is timely. So, too, of course, is the question of how immigrants ought to be viewed and treated.
There are some bugs within “The Occupation.” Players can suddenly glitch through the floors of a building or find themselves unable to access inventory. Glitching in the middle of one of the segments into which the gameplay is divided, moreover, means starting that section over from the top. Additionally, pacing can be slow compared to other titles.
Those defects aside, a trip down the deep and appealingly mysterious rabbit hole of “The Occupation” makes for a thoroughly enjoyable adventure.
Playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
The game contains references to violence and to alcohol use. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T — teens.
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Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.