New Game Review

Review – 1979 Revolution: Black Friday (PS4)

Well, you know, we all want to change the world.

There are times in which games are not only fun pastimes, but they can actually teach you something useful or open your mind to themes related to what you’ve just played. Age of Mythology made me want to research more about ancient history. Bioshock actually made me want to read Atlas Shrugged (I regret it to this day). Do I even need to mention the Carmen Sandiego franchise? This brand new console port of the award-winning PC game 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is another example, as it’s a game that not only knows how to tell a compelling story, but also teaches you a thing or two about modern history at the same time, albeit with a handful of issues here and there.

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One of the very few characters with pretty good facial expressions.

1979 Revolution: Black Friday takes place during the Iranian Revolution, in which the 2,500-old Iranian Royal Family was deposed by a popular uprising, resulting in the creation of the current Islamic Republic of Iran, led by an Ayatollah followed by an elected president. I’m not here to discuss the positives or negatives of such a revolution or commenting on if the leaders of the uprising were doing the right thing or not. To be fair, the game tries to be as open-minded as possible with the situation as well.

The game’s protagonist, the formerly naive photographer Reza, gets to meet lots of different idealists throughout the game. You can talk to a radical Islamist who wants to turn the country into an emirate. You can talk to a much more laid back and pro-peace Islamist who even invites you to pray at an optional cutscene. You can talk to a communist and a complete anti-communist. You can talk to your cousin about freedom of religion when passing by a nearby store owned by a catholic. You can talk to people who want to depose the Shah of Iran by force, while others want to promote a more peaceful, Gandhi-esque approach. The developers made sure to let you to decide who has the best ideals. Nothing is shoved down your throat, besides the obvious objective of getting rid of the Shah, that is.

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Better than Negan.

One thing that impressed me is the historical accuracy. Being a photographer, Reza has to take pictures of revolution-related events at all times. Once you do that, the game shows a comparison between your picture and its exact real-life counterpart. You can also read more about said event during this time. Some in-game characters, including a prison torturer, were actual real life participants of the revolution’s history, for better or worse. Even smaller details, such as movie posters from the time and carefully recreated models of the Iran Khodro Paykan car, are included.

There’s one other (very obvious) thing you have to put into consideration regarding 1979 Revolution. At the end of the day, it’s still a video game and it needs to be equally judged in its technical aspects as well as how playable it is. Sadly, this is where it falters.

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Iran had a serious case of cloning back in 1979.

The graphics are a mixed bag. While the developers have masterfully managed to recreate Tehran from the late 70’s in great detail, as well as blending lots of memorable images from the revolution in the game’s overall level design, there’s a big issue regarding character models. Simply put, they are cheap. Really cheap. Main characters have passable animations and facial expressions, but secondary characters feel a lot less polished, while random NPCs scattered throughout the levels are basically copy-paste versions of half a dozen preset models created with a very disappointing number of polygons. They wouldn’t feel awkward in a Nintendo 64 game, for instance.

The game itself doesn’t have that much gameplay when you think of it. Sure, there are tons of branching paths and multiple choices to various scenarios (that’s a godsend when it comes to its replayability factor), but at the end of the day, 1979 Revolution is like a Telltale or a David Cage game: you can basically narrow its gameplay down to dialogue options, limited linear exploration, and quick-time events. It’s also pretty short, clocking at about two hours in length. Maybe that’s bad for you, maybe that’s good for you. I can’t quite call it a relaxing time due to its very strong themes, but the game won’t require any resemblance of skill whatsoever. Its best aspect is still its story, not anything related to its gameplay.

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If you ever need extra material to study for an Iranian Revolution exam, look no further…

As an educational history tool, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is fantastic, as it tackles a sensitive and often overlooked chapter of the late 20th century with detail and care. As an adventure game, it feels very rough in certain aspects, mainly its visuals and gameplay, but it’s still a fun time if you’re a history buff. If you’re a fan of Cold War stories, the movie Argo, Telltale games, or just history in general, 1979 Revolution is a good call, as long as you overlook some of its issues.

 

Graphics: 6.0

The environments and animations are pretty good. The textural quality and character models are rough though.

Gameplay: 6.5

There’s not a lot of actual gameplay: you go through a lot of dialogue, get through a few QTE’s, take pictures, and explore a bit. It probably plays best with a mouse, not a controller.

Sound: 9.0

The voice acting is, for the most part, nearly impeccable. The soundtrack doesn’t show up constantly, but gets the job done whenever it appears.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The excellent story, multiple paths and historical accuracy are more than enough to overcome the occasionally limited gameplay and technical issues.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Also available on: Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

A copy of 1979 Revolution: Black Friday was provided by the publisher.

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About Leo Faria

Founder and mastermind behind Way Too Many Games, hailing from the southern swag that is São Paulo, a Sega widower who considers the Dreamcast to be the greatest console ever released, the greatest Guitar Hero and Tetris player you’ll ever meet. My favorite games include Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, the Guitar Hero series, Bioshock Infinite and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II. I also own an Ouya. Never turned it on.

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