Reading Time: 2 minutes (ish)
Well, happy new year everyone.
I wanted to start 2021 off by talking about an incredibly satisfying gaming experience I had over Christmas. Playing Animal Farm on my phone.
For those that don’t know, Animal Farm is a very stark book written by George Orwell in the 1940s that uses power struggles between farm animals as an allegory for the rise of Stalin and Communism in the early 1900s. It is a classic, but may not be on many peoples radars these days – unless it is a school text! Like his other classic 1984, it is a story that feels a bit too close to our current political climate – with plenty of warnings about what can happen when people choose power over people.
At the end of last year, The Dairymen Ltd. published a game based on the book. Developed by Nerial, Animal Farm is a clever and deeply engrossing retelling of the original story. Playing like a mix of choose your own adventure style storytelling and a resource management game, you get to decide the fate of Animal Farm.
Depending on your choices throughout, the game swings from following the core narrative of the original, to forging its own path into new stories that feel as if they had been written by Orwell himself. It is so seamless that you never really feel you are straying from the original story, even though you obviously are!
As a game, it is not all that complicated. Read text, make a choice, repeat. There are plenty of secrets, medals, easter eggs and endings to be found, but the gameplay is not what makes this shine. It is the way the story is told and how important your role as the storyteller feels. I’ve played the game through five or six times, and whilst there is repetition, the choices I make each time make the story feel fresh and new.
It proves that you don’t need to make a big flashy game to make a game that is engrossing and enjoyable. It shows that storytelling is really key. It also works as a master class in how to bring classic literature to life for a new generation.
If you are into serious games, gamification or any other related topic, I put this up with games like Home, Edith Finch, 80 Days and Fire Watch as an essential game to play to get a deeper understanding of how to tell non-linear stories with style and expertise.
Go to https://animalfarmgame.com/ to find out how to get a copy. Off you go, treat yourself!!
Also published on Medium.