They Liberation Front is a growing threat, and you're the expert who can take them down. They're being uncooperative and your usual methods may not work in this scenario. But the clock is ticking and lives are at stake. How will you approach the interrogation? Will you keep to the book and play by the rules or be a little more... persuasive? In Interrogation: You will be deceived, that's up to you.
Interrogation: You will be deceived is a psychological thriller and narrative-driven puzzle game by Critique Gaming. Your primary goal is to successfully draw a confession out of suspects by exploring various dialogue options and using different techniques depending on the emotional state of your interviewee. You play as the lead investigator tasked with bringing down a terrorist organization known as the Liberation Front. Interrogation offers a unique take on the detective genre,m as you will also be managing a team of investigators of differing capabilities and accessing the truth through interrogation. But what methods do you use to bring this dangerous organization to justice? That’s up to you. Whether you play by the book, limited by the ‘red tape’ or use the ‘enhanced interrogation’ methods of police brutality – your actions will have consequences and impact how the public, press and politicians see you and your team.
Interrogation’s storyline is rooted in deep political messaging on radicalization and authority abuse. In the tutorial, you are shown how to perform a successful interrogation on the suspect of a crime. But if your suspect does not co-operate during questioning, there is the option to cut the recorder and use more "persuasive" methods, which will get results quicker but your police brutality will lower your reputation. With each questioning of a Liberation Front member, you slowly learn that this organization’s motives are more than just ideology and, as the narrative progresses, the stakes get even higher and the Liberation Front seemingly grows in power. The storyline also explores how seemingly ordinary people get drawn into radicalization and how terrorist organizations grow by using the Liberation Front as an amalgamation of different types of terrorist organizations in history.
Because of its strong focus on narrative, you are given the option to focus more on the storyline when picking between its two difficulty settings. Interrogation Challenge will give you a difficult but "conversational" gameplay experience whereas Narrative Experience difficulty allows you to delve more into the story and its meanings without worrying about timers or failing a mission. I found Narrative Experience to be a good choice as, above all, Interrogation shines in its story. Its exploration into ideology and the growth of terrorist organizations give you something think about when you complete that final chapter, but it does occasionally get too wordy and forceful with its message. Particularly when interviewing an ideology expert at one point, I found myself skipping dialogue to finally end a conversation which was way too long. It felt as though Critique Gaming got a little too carried away with showing off their research into the reasoning behind terrorists. But, this was the only scenario where I found myself skipping dialogue, and overall the writing was stellar and the characters were well-written.
You will start each chapter with a selection of files that tell you the motivation level of your team members, your reputation among civilians, press and politicians, whether each team member was successful in the job you set them in the previous chapter, and the current "perks" you have in use. If, in the previous chapter, you purchased a more detailed PR report, you can also see what has negatively or positively impacted your reputation. In my experience, I was consistently failing in my press releases, which negatively affected my reputation with the public and press. Once you have assessed these, you can brief your team. If you previously purchased a more detailed HR report in the recent chapter, you will be shown the percentage of each team member’s capability to successfully carry out each available task on the map. Depending on where you set your team, you can either gather more information for the next chapter or set your team on jobs which will improve your reputation, increase their morale, or raise the budget for the next chapter. In this section, you will also have the option to choose where to spend that chapter’s budget which will also affect these factors.
This aspect of the game introduced yet another obstacle for you to find your way around, and it means planning in advance. If you see your reputation dwindling, then the right thing to do would be to spend more money into PR - but if your team keeps failing their missions, then maybe you need to pay for more morale boosting exercises or therapy. It was great having something else to manage so that the game didn't solely rely on interrogations as that could have gotten tiring. It also puts more pressure on the player to think about how they conduct their interrogations, as this is where you will see the consequences of your actions the most. However, this part of gameplay didn't have a very good tutorial and so, in my first playthrough, my team management was very poor for the first few chapters. This was nearly impossible to recover from when I did realize my mistakes. The different options for what you can allocate your budget to doesn't state what impact or how much of an impact it will have. I also found reputation to be a losing battle. It didn't matter how well I managed my team, as someone was bound to be unhappy. Whether this is supposed to reflect real life, I don't know, but it could be frustrating to see my reputation falling all the time and not really understanding why.
A core gameplay component to Interrogation is in the title itself. Interrogations are conducted by picking from various dialogue options. In response to some answers by the interviewee, you are given differing options to reply with, which will have a different effect on the interviewee’s emotions. You are given the choice of going through different questions and then, when you believe you have pushed the interviewee to their limit, you can strike them with the "accusation" and see if they will confess. Though be warned, accusing them too early could affect their status bars and decrease your chances of successfully bringing out a confession later on. Keen observation is needed in order to succeed. Sometimes when you have multiple interviewees, they will contradict each other and you can use this against them. You can also go back to previous questions and try them again once the interviewee is more co-operable to see if they’ll answer differently. But in interrogations that are timed, you may not have the seconds to spare in repeating a question, so choosing the right order of which information to get first can be vital.
There are two status bars to watch when conducting an interrogation: the suspect’s pupil dilation, which measures how open they are to you; and their heartbeat, which measures how scared they are. As the interrogation progresses, these status bars will change depending on what dialogue options you chose. Some suspects will open up more if you flatter them, but with others this may not work and it will be better to scare them instead, either using "enhanced interrogation" techniques or with dialogue carefully picked to put them on edge. This is why reading the case file on each suspect before an interrogation is important - it gives you information into their background and potentially gives you an idea on the best starting approach.
Overall, I found the interrogation function to work well. It caused interrogations to be extremely tense on timed missions, as I would need to decide which information is most valuable in order to save time rather than waste it on pointless information. However, despite being given a case file to read before an interrogation, this doesn't really change the way you can conduct the interrogation. Yes, you may find out about the suspect's background which can be used against them, but you will find out about that through the dialogue options offered up to you anyway. I feel like it would have been better to add dud questions which contain false information and will trick you if you didn't read the file. That way, it puts more pressure on the player to do their research, as there would be greater consequences in not doing so.
Interrogation is successful in providing a challenging experience for the player. Especially on timed missions, it can be difficult to succeed. Later in the game I got better at analyzing answers in order to pick out contradictions and change tactics depending on an answer. However, in some parts I would end up exhausting all dialogue options in order to get more information through trial-and-error. Luckily, you are able to go back and replay certain chapters through the menu, which was useful when I had done such a poor job of managing my team that I needed to just go back a few chapters to fix my mistakes. This also puts further challenge on the gameplay, as you’ll learn early on that, due to budget limitations, you can’t keep everyone happy and must find a way to at least balance the views of the public, politicians and press so that they don't completely hate you.
The game is well-animated and hand-drawn in a sketchy black and white style to further emphasis the noir genre it’s trying to display. Critique Gaming did this by painstakingly rotoscoping over a thousand image of forty different actors. Although repetitive in some places, and at times contradicting to what emotion they're trying to show, the different animations will help you read an interviewee’s reaction to what you have said, so you can evaluate whether to change questioning method or not. Interrogation is showing a bleak world where police brutality is rampant and people want change, and the monochrome art style perfectly shows this.
Overall, Interrogation: You will be deceived is a thoroughly enjoyable game that offers up enough challenge to keep the heavy amount of dialogue interesting. Although it will only take a few hours to complete, it has plenty of replay value with branching paths based on your decisions, and the offering to choose between building your character based off different questioning approaches. Its moody soundtrack and monochrome visuals perfectly balance with the thoughtful message Critique Gaming wants to leave players with. This is a detective-noir game done right, and I look forward to see what the developers will bring in the future.
Jess reviewed Interrogation: You will be deceived on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.