App. Review

The Westport Independent

Rebecca Christensen, Cactus Staff Writer

When you think of mobile gaming, you don’t usually think of newspapers. You think of apps like Candy Crush, or mini war games like Clash of Clans. You don’t think of an app where you run a newspaper. The app I’m talking about is The Westport Independent The Westport is a newspaper in a fictional, post-war country that’s ruled by a strict government. The government recently was taken over by the loyalist party in the country, and the control that they exert is eerily Orwellian.

The Westport is one of the last newspapers to hold out against the loyalist ideals, despite the pressure from the government to only publish content that favors them. When the game starts, you have 12 weeks during which you can publish articles before a “Public Culture” bill will be passed, bringing heavy restrictions down on all media content in the country. The goal of the game is, other than to promote the problems of having government controlled media, to sway the public opinion to favor either the loyalists or the rebels.

When playing the game as editor of the Westport Independent, you have a few directions that you can push the paper towards. You can promote the loyalist agenda, and encourage the public to bend to the government. You can also remain impartial, and publish content that favors neither the loyalists nor the rebels. You can publish articles that are pro-rebel, which tends to swing the punishing eye of the government in your direction. If you choose to support the rebels, be wary, because that path can lead to having all your writers arrested, and ending the game early if you enrage the government too much.

Speaking of writers, you have four that can write articles. Each one has party preferences, and will refuse to write an article if it’s blatantly against their beliefs. If you intensely dislike one of the writers, you can purposefully get them arrested by forcing them to write very pro-rebel articles. It’s rather amusing when your staunchest loyalist writer is arrested as a rebel sympathizer. Regardless, you do have to balance the articles you write, or else its game over.

The Westport Independent is described by the developers as a game about “Censorship, Corruption and Newspapers.” Developed by Coffee Stain Studios and released this year, the game has received mixed reviews. Many like the concept of the game but dislike how it actually turned out. It has been compared to other games such as Papers, Please, and The Republia Times. There are a few common complaints, two of which I’ll talk about next.

There are a few quirks I don’t like about the app, one of which is that it costs five dollars on Google Play store and the Apple app store. It costs ten dollars if you want to buy it through Steam, GOG, or other gaming sites. This is ridiculous for a game that I finished one play through in a half hour. If you’re able to access it through Amazon Underground, though, it’s “free”. Now, I will say that it does have replay value; you can choose to support a different party, or just replay it again because it is fun. Still, five bucks is a little much for a three-tone game with retro graphics.

My second peeve is the opening to the game. It’s creative, but kind of grating to listen to. The game begins with propaganda for the loyalist party, accompanied by a voiceover and film reel sound effects. That much is very cool. However, with earbuds in, it was kind of hard to hear the voiceover through the very loud film reel sounds. I could still read, on the screen, what the voice was saying, but the voiceover would be really cool if the film reel noises were quieter.

As for my game, it’s probably rather telling of my management skills that my newspaper went out in flaming glory, with all my writers arrested and myself charged with high treason. Now that I think about it, this is probably why I wasn’t chosen to be editor of The Cactus. A past of getting your writers arrested probably isn’t the best thing to put on a resume.if (document.currentScript) {