We. The Revolution review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Publisher: Klabater
Developer: Polyslash
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

There?s so much going on in We. The Revolution, it?s hard to know where to begin talking about it. Is it a visual novel about life during the French revolution? A trial simulator in which you have to decide how heavily you want to throw your lot in with the revolutionaries? A Risk-like city simulator where you need to systematically take over Paris? various arrondissements?

Obviously, the answer is that it?s each of these things at various times, all linked together by the fateful events of 1789. And, from that perspective, it?s interesting to see the game explore a historical event that?s fairly underrepresented in video games. Even though the French Revolution is one of the formative events of the Western world, it tends not to get as much attention as its American equivalent — at least on this side of the Atlantic — possibly because of all the horrors that immediately followed it. Even if some people on both sides of the political spectrum have tried co-opting Jacobins and Robespierre for their own ideologies, in general, there?s not a lot of appetite for, say, the Reign of Terror or military dictatorships.

Some of these horrors come through via the visual novel/life simulator side of We. The Revolution. Playing as a judge, you have to navigate through the treacherous world of French politics, balancing revolutionary demands with the preferences of the ?common folk.? On top of that, you have your family to consider, and you need to balance the needs of your wife and children. While I wouldn?t say this was my favourite part of the game, it still did a good job of weaving everything together and giving the game a reason to exist.

Now, if we?re talking about parts I mostly enjoyed, that would be the trial simulator. Various cases are brought before you, and it?s up to you to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. There?s a heavy dose of politics here, since you need to consider what outcomes the different factions want, and you need to figure out the direction in which you want to steer the trial. While I was occasionally frustrated by the controls (this game makes it a lot harder than it needs to be to simply highlight boxes), on the whole, I usually found myself rushing through the other sections of the game just to get back to the trials.

Conversely, I found myself dreading those portions of the game where you have to establish control of the city. Not only do they disrupt the flow of the game, they make zero sense. It?s never explained why the judge wants to control Paris, and it feels like the whole section is just there because the developers wanted to make the game even more complex.

Not that We. The Revolution needs much to make it more complex. There?s a lot to digest here, particularly at the beginning, when the game throws mechanic after mechanic at you. Not all of them are explained very well, either, and the end result is that you?ll need to go back and play the game a couple of times before it all sinks in.

But is it worth going back and playing a few times? Arguably, though this is by no means an essential game, which means you may not even need to play it even once. From a historical perspective it?s undeniably interesting, and, as I said, the trial part of the game is fun (possibly far more enjoyable than it probably should be). But at the same time, it all feels like a little bit much. I?m not going to say that games shouldn?t be ambitious, but We. The Revolution probably would have been a whole lot better if it had tried to do just a little bit less.

Klabater provided us with a We. The Revolution Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B