Nothing is as simple as it seems in Critique Gaming's debut title, a gritty detective thriller called Interrogation: You Will Be Deceived. With an explosive set to detonate at any minute and with no clues as to its specific location, it was up to us to grill a security guard, the illegal immigrant he apprehended, and his associate in order to discover the culprit and find the location of the bomb before anyone got hurt. It certainly looked like an easy case to solve based on our initial presumptions after glancing at the case files, but after asking an absurd number of repetitive questions, cross-referencing and deliberation, our ignorant expectations had been thoroughly subverted.
Interrogation: You Will Be Deceived has you play as a police detective in a gritty noir and as the name implies, the focus is tightly fixed on interviewing a lot of shady people and light department management, ultimately to stop and catch a dangerous and rather confusing terrorist group from ruining everything - even if you accept that they could be right about a few things. This is far from the first portrayal of police work in games, with titles like This is the Police and Orwell paving the way for interactive narratives which put you in the role of an authority figure chasing down a tense political mystery. Interrogation manages to be just as intriguing and it's similar in a lot of ways, despite a few clunky faults.
Most of your time will be spent in the interview room, locking eyes with a large number of detailed characters, from criminals to suspicious folks, to find out as much information as possible and get a confession out of someone. That's easier said than done though, especially when nearly all of your cases have multiple interviewees who you can switch to at any point.
Selecting questions from a provided list can yield different results depending on what and when you ask, along with changing how a suspect behaves towards you. Whilst it isn't close to the level of detail that L.A. Noire strived for in its interrogations, you do get to see an interviewee's heart rate and pupil dilation to track their nerves and honesty. The higher these levels are the more info they'll give you, such as contradicting themselves or others for some exciting 'gotcha!' moments. Nearly all conversations kick off with a broad range of things to ask, which can sometimes make finding the specific question you need to ask somewhat irritating, especially as more of them show up. Some questions are to the point and sharp, while others are emotionally deep and satisfying to figure out. Then there are a few that are utterly baffling - like asking a suspect if her sister is just as pretty as she is.
Reading the provided case files is sometimes critical when trying and figure out what to ask and if you should manipulate or terrify them, with quite a few ways to get through interrogations depending on how you think things should be handled. We stuck to being a friendly, open officer who only wanted to help (most of the time), although it was certainly tempting to switch off the recorder and use some good ol' fashioned police brutality whenever some smug git just wouldn't budge. Some of the interrogations become quite varied, such as a nerve-wracking hostage negotiation you're in charge of and, of course, trying to locate and prevent explosions in time-based situations where you can only ask a certain number of questions requires some extremely careful choices to be made. There's also something known as 'memories', select abilities which can help you play in a certain way - like knowing about ideologies and being such a pacifist it's like you've invited them into your own home, although we didn't rely on them too much.
For all the thrills provided, there are a few problems with these interviews. It's impossible to charge someone who wasn't responsible for the crimes (though you can certainly accuse them) which means every interrogation usually has a specific ending and revelation. You can restart an interview at any point, which we developed a habit for if we couldn't get the suspect to answer us with no way to raise their honesty or fear through more ethical means - it often ended up with us simply racing through every single dialogue option repeatedly just to get a move on in a trial and error fashion. These interrogations are fun and intriguing the first time, but hearing a pet stylist prattle on about irrelevant things just so he'll answer the questions you actually want to ask will always be tiring.
The story and themes itself, however, will no doubt prove to be contentious. The core terrorist group you track, monitor and hunt down are quite confusing, somehow managing to convince and bring together people of different political ideologies under one banner to cause mayhem and chaos under the justification of trying to create what they see as a better world. It allows you and the characters you meet to comment on and tackle a huge range of themes, although when it all comes together it just seems odd. Learning about what your subjects believe in and why is interesting, but the bold politically-charged narrative requires greater justification as it becomes more relevant, which the game seems to struggle with. It's all visually and audibly presented with a very striking aesthetic though. The sketched monochromatic style lends a deep, dark and heavy look to everything, coated in shades of grey for symbolism we imagine. All of the characters have been rotoscoped from real people, lending a unique look to each and every expression and movement they make as your subjects move around in subtle ways.
Outside of the interviews, you work with a small team of very likeable and well-realised employees with their own secret backstories and skills. You send them out to try and gather information, alongside team building, HR reports, and helping in their investigations. Sometimes your colleagues invite you out simply for a drink, helping to break up the dark mood with some light-hearted banter. Keeping your team happy is pretty crucial, and both your behaviour and actions can prompt them to become either exemplary or utterly hopeless. Your actions even include chatting to individual journalists and the option of reading a large number of detailed articles about the events taking place in the world for even more help in cases.
Probably one of the most exciting things are the press releases, which are written after you've managed to get a confession. Here you can describe the case to the public, press and government with a range of options at your disposal. It manages to feel like real police work and gives a sense of control over the information you want others to see. These press releases are more tricky than they seem, however, and it's quite difficult to try and keep everyone happy, especially when the need for confidential information enters the situation. This can have dramatic effects on the story - in one playthrough we were randomly shot in the back for reasons we couldn't figure out, prompting us to head back and revise some of our earlier decisions. Of course in a narrative game like this, quite a lot of your choices come back to haunt you in various ways, which leads to the different endings - all of which are short and rushed, a surprising and somewhat disappointing conclusion given the large amount of dialogue and the various stages your investigations go through.
Interrogation: You Will Be Deceived will not be everyone's cup of tea. With politics at the heart of it, we imagine that some people will instantly disagree with many of the beliefs portrayed herein, along with some of the odd dialogue choices, daft endings, and trial and error gameplay. Yet it manages to surpass these faults for the most part, helping us feel like we were an authentic and dedicated detective in a tough, mysterious world.
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