Never underestimate the power of passion in game design. Give two teams of developers the same general idea for a project, but have one of them make it solely for money while the other is driven by a sense of passion for the concept, and the team building it out of passion will almost always give you something that feels more worthwhile.
So far as passion goes, you will find fewer projects driven by it more than 1979 Revolution: Black Friday.
Conceptualized and developed by Iranian-Canadian developer Navid Khonsari, Black Friday is the story of the infamous 1979 Iranian revolution as told through the perspective of a photojournalist who finds himself slowly swept up in its events. The game aims to convey how the common people of this time were forever affected by what would transpire during this period. Because of this view, the Iranian government has seen fit to ban Black Friday from being released in their country and have also labeled Khonsari a traitor and spy for his efforts in developing it.
Seeing the game's story play out before you leaves little room for doubt as to why the government would not want it to easily fall into the hands of the Iranian people. The revolution portrayed here would directly lead to the Iran that we know today, and anyone who so happens to oppose that particular government may not be too thrilled to see the events that unfold here. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the game takes a black and white stance concerning all sides involved, but what it does do is manage to capture the spirit and passion that drives a revolution as well as any game of its kind before it.
Then again, there never really has been a game quite like this one from a narrative and setting standpoint, which is a big part of what makes Black Friday so compelling. Video games may be more diverse than they've ever been, but they still rely on the same set of common settings such as dark fantasies or sci-fi space epics featuring space marines most of the time. Seeing such a unique world play out before you as beautifully as it is designed in Black Friday is a simple joy in and of itself. Despite the fact that the game takes notable cues from films such as City of God, there is really nothing else quite like what this game is presenting in all of entertainment.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of the gameplay. Anyone who has ever played a TellTale adventure game will be instantly familiar with Black Friday's blend of choice-based dialogue and quick-time event action sequences. Although there are a couple of alterations to that particular formula - the most notable of which being some enjoyable photography segments - the overall gameplay doesn't really venture far from the ordinary.
That's a bit of a downer given how everything else about this game is actually quite far from ordinary. When you're not being exposed to interesting new historical facts or getting a glimpse into this culture, you'll find that you're not doing anything in this game that you likely haven't done many times before in several other titles. Coupled with the fact that you could conceivably beat Black Friday in under an hour if you are not concerned with exploring everything - and maybe just a couple of hours if you are - and it becomes quite difficult to recommend Black Friday from a value perspective.
However, if you approach 1979 Revolution: Black Friday as an interactive pseudo-documentary, then you'll find that it is a pretty great one. The rich story and diverse cast of characters will have no trouble keeping you compelled enough to see the game through completion, but those who are seeking something a bit more fun that will last them longer than an afternoon will be disappointed to find that Black Friday falls short of starting a revolution for its somewhat tired genre.
- Unique Setting
- Great Story
- Excellent Production Values
- Repetitive, Familiar Gameplay
- Some Pacing Issues
- Can be Beaten In Under An Hour