George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm is a classic allegorical tale that has greatly influenced modern culture. It comes as no surprise, especially at a time when U.S. politics are more fiery than ever, that this story has been adapted into a video game. As someone who grew up reading classics, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this rendition of the book and see how I could control the fate of the animals and the laws of Animalism.
The gameplay of Orwell’s Animal Farm is a very simple point-and-click procedure. While there aren’t instructions on how to navigate this world, there’s really no need since the mechanics are intuitive, plus it adds to the mystery of how your choices will impact the characters. One thing I appreciated about the game is that the designers preserve the feel of the original novella, so while you are immersed in a game it behaves more like a visual novel. There was no time limit when I had to make a choice, like allowing the rats to remain on the farm or banishing them and redefining the rules of Animalism. It gives you time to think, although my goal was to see how quickly I could cause the downfall of Manor Farm.
In order to change the rules of Animalism, I had to choose how the animals would respond to each situation. There are several familiar characters I encountered such as Old Major, Snowball, and Boxer, but there are others who do not appear in the original story that still have a significant impact on the outcome of each decision. Sometimes I would force the animals to be fully compliant to the pigs, savoring every moment of their tyranny. Other times I would choose an animal to defy the pigs’ orders and publicly question their claims. This would often result in an animal disappearing from the farm.
As I progressed from one year to the next, new challenges would arise, such as building a windmill, but I would have to determine if that structure was a priority or if more energy needed to go into harvesting food. While the overall pace of the game is slow, the story never became stale since there is the continual development of the animal society. On top of that, the hand-drawn artwork is reminiscent of the English countryside and changes with each season, breathing life into the world. I love how the tones and colors would change during battles or when the animals lost a fellow comrade, mirroring the somber emotions of the characters.
While each main character in Orwell’s Animal Farm has its own unique personality, there are certain aspects of the game that felt very one-dimensional. For example, the battle scenes do not feel like battles. There is no gore, there is no action, just decisions that I had to make, and the end results showing who survived and who did not. Additionally, there is a lack of voice acting, with only the narrator chronicling the events and no audio dialogue between the characters. Even with this lack of richness, the game does preserve a lot of the tropes found in the literary version of the game and the plot continues to develop with every choice.
I was hoping for a game that was a bit more dynamic, but Orwell’s Animal Farm stays true to the original tale and allows players to explore the fate of each animal. Additionally, there are multiple achievements to complete, which is not an easy feat. If you’re not particularly interested in anything political, this game does an excellent job of introducing ideas to people of all ages who want to become more educated or have an open discussion about communist or socialist ideologies. Fan’s of Animal Farm will thoroughly enjoy this adaptation. For gamers looking for something action-packed, this might not be the game for you, but I suggest taking a step outside your comfort zone. You might find something enlightening in this game that challenges your perspective of society and how your own choices impact the real world.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Orwell's Animal Farm
Gameplay - 7/10
Plot - 7/10
Design - 7/10
+ Intuitive gameplay with multiple choices and outcomes
+ Beautiful soundtrack that fits well with the original hand-drawn illustrations
+ Engaging story that perfectly depicts the horrors of communism
– Very little voice acting, which makes for a somewhat one-dimensional experience
– Pace is the same throughout the game, which can be boring
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