Imagine trying to run a newspaper in a totalitarian state in which the government can shut you down at any time, and you still need to sell papers. That’s the situation you face in The Westport Independent, a new iOS game that evokes memories of Papers, Please. The gameplay is different, but the theme and artistic design delivers that same great atmosphere. The Westport Independent pits you as the editor of the paper, and you’re given a slate of weekly articles to go over, edit, and assign to your writers.
The game begins with new legislative rules enacted to give the government oversight of the press, and you have 12 weeks until the legislation is enacted. Each week, you’re given about eight articles, but you only have four writers. That means that you can only select four of the given articles for your paper to best balance meeting the standards of the government, and still sell papers. Each writer has their own backstory and political preferences that you need to be cognizant of when assigning articles. You can choose between two headlines for each article, and cross out any item of a single article to create the best version for your goals. Once you select your articles, you can then assign the order in your paper, and then set the marketing budget for the four districts. Each district has their own size, content preference, and loyalist versus rebel standing.
The Westport Independent does a great job of portraying the situation to immerse you in the decision making of an editor under these circumstances. There’s also a great inclusion of multi-level strategy as you need to deal with each article, writer, newspaper market, and government wishes. Each week, you’re presented with letters from the different groups to give you feedback on your performance that can go as far as imprisoning your writers. There’s such a delicate balance, and you still have the choice to be a government pawn, or a rebel mouthpiece, while always trying to stay in business. The game consists of only 12 weeks, and it can go by quite quickly. With that said, you will likely want to replay to change your decisions, and see what new occurrences there are as the game reacts to your decisions.
The Westport Independent ($4.99, Universal) delivers a thought provoking experience that is a must have on iOS.