Developed by White Paper Games and published by Humble Bundle, The Occupation seeks to draw players back to late 1980s England with this first person, politically rooted narrative adventure. It’s a small niche for a game, but White Paper pushes The Occupation to every possible limit. While players do take control of a handful of characters during The Occupation’s run time, their primary role is as journalist Harvey Miller. Harvey’s mission is to uncover the events that lead up to the Turing Bombing of 1987 which has resulted in swift legislation and subsequent political uprising that is tearing the country apart.
Players are tasked with guiding Miller through a series of interviews with important political players in order to sleuth out the truth. Prior to each interview, the player has one hour – in real time – to uncover as much information as possible using any means necessary. Typically this involves sneaking around the premises of the interview, crawling through vents, stealing ID cards, and hacking into sluggish PCs. All of this must be done without getting caught in inappropriate places by the lurking AI, however being spotted isn’t a game over situation. You can be reset several times before you straight up annoy the guards and get thrown out, which can result in a missed interview.
Missing interviews or not finding pertinent information again isn’t a game over scenario. The Occupation has multiple potential endings based on what you uncover during your play through, whether you catch people up in lies or make it to all of the important events. Getting to that ending can be a bigger task than one would think, however. The Occupation relies on the mechanic that you have one real time hour before interviews to uncover as much as possible, and there is no way to save part way through your hour. Each chapter auto saves at the end, but there is no way to save mid chapter. If you are unable to sit down and play uninterrupted for one entire chapter you’re going to find yourself getting thrown back to the beginning. Likewise because of the game’s fixed time schedule, any interruptions in real life can result in wasting a play through if you’re not on time for a meeting. It makes playing an otherwise enjoyable game a surprising chore.
The unfortunate lack of a mid chapter save isn’t The Occupation’s only disappointing side. Despite the beautifully crafted world, characters movements are clunky and it can be difficult to overcome obstacles. This is particularly evident when trying to navigate the numerous vent systems that allow you to move about undetected. Often times trying to climb up onto furniture to scramble into a vent can leave your character stuck, hunched over between a filing cabinet and a ceiling with little wiggle room to actually get where you’re going.
It will take multiple play throughs if you want to experience The Occupation’s optional cutscenes and various endings. In general, your time with the game is enjoyable enough to justify the play throughs but forced restarting of chapters if you quit before the auto save kicks in can add unnecessary time and frustration.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher