I'll never forget my first execution. It was a carpenter who inadvertently caused the collapse of a building floor he constructed. It resulted in the death of multiple adults and children. As a judge, I determined him guilty and dropped the guillotine's blade while the crowd roared. He definitely wasn't the last. While each courtroom battle in We. The Revolution was as compelling and memorable as the last, I wish I could say the same for the rest of the game's hodgepodge of confusing and uninteresting gameplay.
We. The Revolution is a historical strategy game developed by Polyslash and published by Klabater. You take the role of a judge named Alexis Fidèle during the French Revolution. It's up to the player to pass down judgment, deliver speeches, conduct campaigns of intrigue, lead battles, and manage your family life.
Before getting deep into the gameplay of We. The Revolution, I must commend the artistry of the game. It boasts a unique polygonal art style but also has the look of historical paintings of the period. The color palette is a mix of duller colors with the occasional bright red or blue from the French flag or a soldier's uniform. Story scenes play out through comic book-like panels. Lead Artist Zuzanna Szabłowska did an excellent job capturing the emotional and tumultuous time of the French Revolution. The polygons help We. The Revolution stand out and pop, and it was a pleasure to experience all of the details.
The music of We. The Revolution is also emotional and served as appropriate ambient sound in the courtroom or while delivering a powerful speech. The only problem I have in regard to the overall presentation was the voice acting. We. The Revolution takes intentional liberties with the French Revolution. It's not totally historically accurate. Still, when there's such an excellent aesthetic and dedication in recreating late 18th France, it's a disappointment that the English voice acting contains no French accents. French is a supported language, but you can't play with a French dub while the interface and gameplay are in English. It would be an excellent inclusion, but it's just not here. Furthermore, the English voice acting is definitely hit or miss. Alexis, the lead character, sounded particularly static and lacked emotion.
It should be emphasized that the story of We. The Revolution is a loose interpretation of the French Revolution. It's not historically accurate, but it is grounded in reality. Just don't expect an accurate retelling of the Reign of Terror. The story itself is intriguing, if a bit hard to follow. I believe that is because of my basic understanding of the Revolution. Still, it follows Alexis' story just as much as the historical event itself, and there are plenty of twists and turns that kept me engaged.
Choice drives the story. Or, at the very least, that appears to be the case on the surface. Without delving into spoilers, there are certain events that seem to require a choice that will affect the ending, but the more I played the less I felt that way. There are some instances during the main plot where you play a dice game, and there are consequences to winning or losing. I wholly believe that these are completely rigged against you, and my suspicions were confirmed when I took a look at the forums. Frankly, it's a terrible way to implement the illusion of choice.
The gameplay itself splits into different segments, but my favorite remains the court cases. As a judge, you preside over the cases of various criminals. Some may be tried for something as simple as vandalism while others for murder or counter-revolutionary actions. Players receive all needed evidence to begin with, outlined through notes on your podium. You read through the notes and then create questions to ask the defendant. You do this by connecting the evidence and sequence of events with certain keywords like "Method" or "Extenuating Circumstances." If that sounds vague, it definitely is. I would often disagree with what ended up connecting together. If you link incorrectly enough times, it can lock you out from being able to ask everything.
The verdict is ultimately up to you, so unlocking every question is important. You'll be able to either exonerate, incarcerate, or execute. Strangely, the incarcerate option stops becoming available early on in the game and it's just a matter of the other two. Before you give out your verdict, you will want to consider the factions who either want someone freed or dead. If you get too low of a reputation with a faction, you'll lose. Case gameplay is definitely a matter of making sure a reputation bar doesn't reach below a certain threshold. I understand that this removes the fun of making choices since you might personally agree that someone deserves execution but you have to free them because you lose the game if not.
I find that when all reputations are even, We. The Revolution is at its best. I can choose who to execute and who to live based on my own moral beliefs. Then it becomes a matter of swaying the jury in my favor by asking incriminating questions if I want someone executed and vice versa. I also have to commend Polyslash for keeping each one interesting when I was forced to make a choice based on how much reputation I had. It's not a perfect mechanic, but it is by far the most interesting and least confusing.
That is because there are several other components to the gameplay. Managing family life is another big part of We. The Revolution, but one of the most boring. You usually have a choice of how to spend the night with your family. For example, you could spend it reading, or go to a play. With four family members, not everyone is going to be happy with your choice, so your reputation with them will fluctuate. Your reputation with the family affects your status with other factions, too, so it is important to make choices.
The biggest flaw of family time is its mundane nature, but the inevitability that it will all eventually fail. Like the dice game, I also believe that no matter what, your family relations will reach rock bottom with at least two members of the family due to uncontrollable story events. It's an illusion of choice.
Alexis must also conduct speeches, order units around a map of Paris, and control troops. These were the most confusing parts of We. The Revolution because there was a severe lack of clarity in directions. The tutorials are rather unhelpful. Their confusing wording often left me scratching my head. Even worse, there is no way to go back and read on the tutorials. If you misunderstanding something, tough luck. You can't read up on the mechanics, so you just have to figure it all out yourself.
Speeches involve choosing how you convey your words to a crowd. The crowd could be "Withdrawn" on an act committed by a criminal. You can deliver your speech on that topic through carelessness, humility, aggression, or manipulation. I still don't really know what this means, because I don't think it was explained well. I was able to get better at it only by playing, but I shouldn't constantly be confused like this. The real-time strategy gameplay on Paris' map involves you moving agents around on a board, vying for influence. From what I understand, you control districts of Paris to gain reputation and lower a crowd's fervor. Meanwhile, you can take out or avoid the enemy faction's agents. I also don't think I fully understand the point of this, and it was also as boring as family time.
Lastly, and perhaps the worst offender of the lack of clarity, are battles. Later on, you will command troops against enemies. In the last act, you will be doing a lot of battles. In battles, you choose a tactic for your army to perform every turn until either side runs out of troops. These tactics are vague words such as "Neutral," "Defense," and "Entrenchment." I can gather what the words mean but this is useless when tutorials don't properly explain each effect they cause. Furthermore, players don't know what the enemy does until they perform one of these tactics, so what's the point? We. The Revolution's saving grace is the ability to automatically play out these battles, but you don't get this ability until later on.
Speeches, the tactical map, and battles are all bare bones and lacking in fun. They felt like a tedious task I had to do in order to continue with the more interesting story and courtroom gameplay. Perhaps I would have gained a better understanding of these mechanics if I could re-read tutorials. Either way, they would still remain tedious. We. The Revolution also packs so much of this into the game that it overstays its welcome. A good amount of the gameplay could be condensed for the better.
Despite what it may seem, I don't think that We. The Revolution is a bad game. I wanted to come back and play more. I think it's frustrating because I can see the love and care put into it, but it's being held down by poor gameplay. The artistry and courtroom battles are fun and worth a look, especially if you enjoy historical games. Just don't jump in expecting a compelling, loose retelling of one of modern history's most tumultuous periods.
TechRaptor reviewed We The Revolution on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.
We. The Revolution looks great, and the courtroom gameplay is interesting and kept me coming back. But, if you're looking for a fleshed-out or comprehensive RTS experience, you'll be sorely disappointed.
- Courtroom Gameplay is Fun
- Compelling Story
- Fantastic Visuals and Music
- False Sense of Choice
- Lack of Clarity in Directions
- Boring, Bare Bones RTS Gameplay
- No French Accents and Mediocre Voice Acting
- Outstays Its Welcome