The most interesting part of 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is that it puts you inside a story that is overshadowed by a real event. There is some familiar gameplay and some missteps in player activities, but the overall story was more engaging due to the constant injections of historical evidence presented in the game. For every story that tries to show people in a revolution, here is the real insider view.
The story in 1979 Revolution starts with a bang. The main character, Reza, is arrested and taken to Evin prison in Tehran, Iran, a real and terrifying place. The regime may change, but the nightmares in this place are constant. It’s where the political prisoners are kept to be tortured or interrogated. Whether a confession is freely given or beaten out of you is not the end. It may be just the beginning of your pain. It’s here that Reza tells his story in flashbacks. This is also where some of the most tense moments in the game take place.
Reza is a photographer who has recently come back to Iran in 1978 after being in Germany. Without going any further in the story, the rest of the game documents the events leading to his involvement in the revolution.
The gameplay is similar to Telltale games. You will have conversations with other characters and make decisions. Some of these feel more weighty than others, but those interactions with other people allowed me to really determine how my version of Reza saw his place in the events. Was he a reluctant hero, or was he a revolutionary looking for a cause? Did he promote peace no matter what, or was he willing to participate in violence.
Throughout the game, Reza will take photographs of people and places. These photographs are referenced next to real photos taken during the same time or event. There is a real historical emphasis in 1979 Revolution: Black Friday that few games ever attempt.
You can unlock stories by examining things in the world or taking pictures to give you a perspective from real witnesses and experts as well as notes into the culture. These bring the world and people to life in a way that would not otherwise be possible.
You do have to go to the pause screen to access them, but I would strongly recommend you read them and listen to the speeches for more background. (I would also recommend you seek out more references to better understand something that continues to reverberate through world politics and diplomacy today.)
There are multiple factions in the game that each are trying to get their own philosophical point through to Reza. You cannot join a faction, but it is interesting to see the different ideas that would come together on both sides.
I don’t know that there was a “right” side in the game, and that was interesting as well. The government in power was clearly oppressive. Some of the revolutionaries were willing to kill as needed to replace that government with one that would be equally bad.
There are references to a fire in the game, and the cause is never fully explained. Reza logically questions who did it during the game and is told to be quiet. There are bad actors on both sides. It’s a level of ambiguity that I appreciate from the developers, and I appreciate them not completely sanitizing one side just to show me how bad the opponents were.
In between the story segments, I would need to find something or walk. This was a place the game was weak. The items I might find would be pertinent to the game, but there was not much I could do. Outside a few quick time events, I usually just had to click the X button to progress.
The act of walking was a little clunky at times as you try to move around a person or navigate a crowd to get to the next checkpoint or area of interest. There were a few times the camera would whip around quickly when entering or exiting a room, and this was disorienting.
The visuals are about average to below average for the genre. Although the characters were created using motion capture, the faces and world are not very detailed. The generally good voice work makes up for this, and the rest of the music and sound are fine. The song played when you pause the game is very lovely.
In 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, I enjoyed the story very much, but the rest of the game was just OK. The scenes in Evin are riveting, and I could only imagine the terrors contained in that place. The historical documents, images, and speeches are amazing. I just wish the general gameplay and controls were a little better.
If you can put up with those complaints and want something a little different, give 1979 Revolution: Black Friday a try.
1979 Revolution: Black Friday PS4 Review
1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a distinct change from the usual narrative game. Based on real events and containing testimony and historical evidence throughout the game, it's story contains a real punch that might not otherwise be possible.
Although it is short and the controls and visuals could use some improvement, I looked forward to each new story piece that would allow me to see more. It's a unique experience that I think some gamers will appreciate very much.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.
Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.