Review – Interrogation

I had never heard of Interrogation before a couple weeks ago. Made from the small indie developer, Critique Gaming , as well as Square Enix Collective, it has certainly flown under a lot of radars. A colleague of mine who knows how much I like narrative and puzzle games heard of it and suggested I look into it. From the trailers it looks like a simple set of interrogation scenarios for you to go through. While that is certainly part of it, I was unprepared for just how detailed and deep this game truly is.

Interrogation is a noir-styled detective game, somewhat like LA Noire. You play as a detective that is trying to investigate and stop a growing terrorist threat known as the “Liberation Front”. With each successful interrogation a small piece of the puzzle becomes clear. With twists and turns (and many dead ends), you’ll hopefully be able to eradicate this organization before they claim too many lives. Easier said than done.

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The illustrations are quite striking at times.

Yes, Interrogation involves a lot of dialogue reading and button clicking like many other investigative titles. However, there is a lot more to it than that. The gameplay is essentially broken up into two different categories: interrogations and campaign management. Each category has many different elements to it.

The interrogations themselves involve bringing in either one or multiple suspects and having conversations with them in order to gather the information you need. Pretty straightforward, right? Wrong. Much like in real life, the suspects will try to lie to you or clam up and not talk at all. You will need to try different strategies in order to get what you want.

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Becoming acquainted with a suspect’s background history will help you devise the right approach to get what you need.

Each person has a heart rate monitor and an eye dilation monitor. These determine if the suspect is scared or feeling more like opening up to you. Looking into their backgrounds will help decide on what tactic to try on each person. Someone with a clean background and generally well-liked by their peers? Try creating a personal connection to get them to trust you. A hard-ass with a prior criminal record? Stand tough and throw their history back at them to see if they’ll blow the whistle on somebody. That’s not to say that’s the formula for every scenario, of course.

You can even pause the recording device and threaten the suspect with physical violence. You can grab them by the shirt, throw them against the wall, or even tase them. Doing so might make them shut down or pass out instead of confessing, so trying this isn’t always effective. I won’t lie, in some cases it seemed like the only option to get what I needed. However, you also run the risk of them suing you for police brutality and having investigations run on your interrogation methods, so use this option at your own risk.

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Shockingly, this username doesn’t belong to a teenage boy.

My biggest issue comes with the timed interrogation sections. In these instances, you are up against the clock to gain some important information from a suspect, like the whereabouts of a bomb, before time runs out. It adds a layer of realism and urgency to the interaction, but you’ll waste so much time trying to read the myriad dialogue options that you’ll fail the mission before you’ve even gotten anywhere. I’m a very fast reader and I still failed a couple of these missions a few times simply because I had so many questions to get through. After a while I had to memorize where the best responses were so I could click them lightening fast in order to obtain the crucial information I needed before time ran out.

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Gotta love the media.

Then there’s the campaign management aspect. This is where you will have to allocate your budget to several factors like HR reports on your team, dealing with the government officials, community outreach, therapy for your team members, and so on. You will also have to occasionally deal with the media to try to keep your task force viewed in a positive light with the public. There are also certain tasks you will need to assign to other teammates, but you will have to try to decide which associate will be best suited for the task at hand to help guarantee success. There’s a lot of planning and strategy within this area that can have both immediate victories as well as far reaching consequences.

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The campaign management aspect is surprisingly detailed and cleverly strategic.

The look of Interrogation is both unique and striking in a simplistic sort of way. At first you’ll think it’s just lots of hand-drawn images with slight changes to the angles to create animations. Then once you really look at them, you’ll realize that these images look and feel surprisingly realistic. This is due to the way the animations were constructed. They took hundreds of photos of various actors and drew the animations from those photos. So in a way, what you’re seeing are real reactions and expressions. After a while I almost only saw these images as back and white photos instead of drawings. It really sells the characters they’re portraying.

The realistic animations based off actual people is a clever move, especially since there is no voice acting at all in Interrogation. In fact, there’s hardly any sound at all. The musical score is very subtle, only appearing in instances of interrogating suspects or watching the brief cutscenes. The soundtrack is intentionally minimalistic and slowly gains in intensity as the clock runs out or a suspect becomes flustered. I feel this is actually a smart move as it adds to the tension and urgency of the missions.

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I only had to get blown up three times before stopping the bomb.

Interrogation is a game that completely surprised me. I made an assumption based off the trailer that it was going to be a simple question and answer investigative game. What I discovered is that it is a complex and refreshingly original type of game that sets itself apart from the rest. Despite its issues with the timed sections, it is a deep and thought provoking experience that will test your wits. For fans of investigative, narrative, or puzzle games, consider looking into Interrogation.

 

Graphics: 8.5

The hand-drawn animations taken from real life photos and videos make for a unique look, with the monochromatic color scheme adding to the noir feel.

Gameplay: 7.0

Interrogation consists of two different gameplay elements: interrogations and  campaign management. The interrogations are realistic, but frustrating during the timed encounters. The campaign management is detailed and strategic.

Sound: 6.0

There is no voice acting and only a subtle musical score. The choice for a minimalistic soundtrack is smart and does well to add to the tension and urgency.

Fun Factor: 7.5

With a lot of facets and elements to Interrogation, I was surprised by how smart and entertaining it is. The timed sections can be aggravating with using up most of those precious seconds trying to read the immense amount of dialogue.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Interrogation is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Interrogation was provided by the publisher.