Jesse Woo
E3 2016: 1979 Revolution: Black Friday Preview
Not the shopping Black Friday - one with political significance.
06.22.16 - 1:11 PM

The visual novel/adventure genre is, by its very nature, one of the purest storytelling genres in gaming. One does not pick up a Telltale game expecting to overcome powerful foes with furious sword play and twitchy fingers. At their best, these games excel at immersive storytelling with just enough choice and interactivity to draw the player in without breaking narrative flow. In this way, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is quite familiar. However, the story it tells — that of a young Iranian journalist named Reza caught up in the turmoil and political intrigue of the Iranian Revolution — is largely unprecedented in gaming.

1979 Revolution will be familiar to anyone acquainted with the Telltale Studios school of adventure games. Gameplay is mostly driven by branching dialogue choices, and pushing the wrong people too hard can lead to Reza's swift and ignoble death, emphasizing the danger of the situation. It is refreshing to play an adventure game where tension flows not from zombies or fantastical armies, but true-to-life situations from recent history. In fact, developer iNK Stories loudly touts the story's realism based on true events and eyewitness testimony. The lead developer, Navid Khonsari, is an Iranian American ex-Rockstar employee who has been very vocal about grounding the story in real events.

The game's realism and political subject matter are not without consequences though. The Iranian government has banned the game, claiming it will "poison the minds of youth," and commissioned another game to represent its own version of events. Apparently, Khonsari can no longer return to Iran, and some members of the studio are remaining anonymous to avoid political backlash.

Whatever one's views of the Iranian Revolution may be, 1979 Revolution is a different sort of story than is typical for this genre. Grounded in reality, it gives voice to a community and struggle that rarely see the limelight, and it faces a troubling history with unflinching resolve. If that is of interest, it is available now on PC and iOS.