The Westport Independent is a censorship simulator taking place in a post-war country, governed by the recently elected Loyalist Party. As the editor of one of the last independent newspapers in the country, your job is to remove and edit the content of your paper, affecting the people’s opinion of both the rebels and the Loyalist...
User reviews:
Overall:
Mixed (86 reviews) - 58% of the 86 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jan 21, 2016

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About This Game

A game about Censorship, Corruption and Newspapers


The Westport Independent is a censorship simulator taking place in a post-war country, governed by the recently elected Loyalist Party. As the editor of one of the last independent newspapers in the country, your job is to remove and edit the content of your paper, affecting the people’s opinion of both the rebels and the Loyalist government. With an increase of rebel activity and an ever watching government breathing down your neck, whose truth will you print?

Features

  • Change the content and meaning of your articles by censoring them to your liking. While you can’t lie, you don’t have to tell the whole truth either.
  • Employees with fleshed out character, who will not only react to your actions, but also discuss them with other colleagues.
  • Receive letters and messages from public figures, rebel leaders, employees and other characters affected by your actions.
  • Adaptive stories where your actions affect the opinions of the people, which affects what happens in the city, which in turn affects the stories you receive.

Awards and recognition

  • - Biggest surprise at The MIX GDC 2015, IGN
  • - Part of "Three Cool Surprises From PAX 2015", from Kotaku
  • - Part of "The Very Best Indie Games of GDC 2015", from Gameinformer
  • - The Best of GDC 2015, 148 apps

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 2.0
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 2.0
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 2.0
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Overall:
Mixed (86 reviews)
Recently Posted
d_0hm
( 1.9 hrs on record )
Posted: June 24
Enough room to let you play multiple times with different ideas and yet short enough to see the payoff of those decisions in the end game. It may not bring 80+ hours to the table, but then again it wasn't exactly designed to, either. It's... quirky. I hate to use that word with most games because it admittedly sounds bad, but that's about the best descriptive word I can come up with - and I mean that in the nicest, most positive way possible. There's a level of lightheartedness that plays well with the theme of facist, jack-booted media manipulation and the two go hand-in-hand well. The game never felt like it was just dragging on, or becoming so complex and muddled that going through the stages was a chore. Simple mechanics, easily accessible payoff and resolution and there's a charm to its simplicity that I fall for time and time again. Highly recommended for anyone looking to get some amusement and eat up a little time. As I picked it up on the 2016 Steam Summer Sale (for a steal, really) - I'm quite happy with my purchase, and will keep an eye on the devs to see what else they put out. If it's more of the same as this? Fine, that'll be worth the money. But if they build and expand off of the idea they have here, if they do more but keep the balance of simplicity, humor and freedom of choice? Even better. My hat's off, officially, I enjoyed and will definitely recommend this game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Spectral
( 6.1 hrs on record )
Posted: June 17
A minimalistic game inspired by Papers, Please.
You play as an editor at a newspaper
that is being watched by the fascist government.

You have to decide to either censor the news by removing certain details and spinning the headlines
or you report critically against your own government, causing yourself and your employees trouble.

It is a numbers game, meaning you are trying to balance loyalist/rebel support, your suspicion with the fascists, aswell as the popularity of your newspapers by managing marketing aspects.

Your first playthrough of it will be about an hour long.
The replayability is naturally high.

Games like this... really make you think.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Sphinx
( 0.9 hrs on record )
Posted: June 16
Great game! I have wanted to play it since I first heard of it about a year ago... and since it was just on sale, I figured: why not?
For a game about politics, I was kind of shocked at how easy it was to change the government's opinion. Also the game doesn't really have a defined goal, which I think it maybe should.
Anyways, an awesome game overall, would play again.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Nozzy #Trump2016
( 7.0 hrs on record )
Posted: June 16
Good game i'd say. You play as a editor in a newspaper and your job is to take out the text that the government doesn't like. You can also choose to try and sneak in some rebel propaganda and swing the support in there favor. What you report will affect the opinion of the people so if you want a rebellion report on the stuff that the government is doing bad, though you should watch out, cause too much criticism will lead to you getting executed
Helpful? Yes No Funny
♔ Erbkaiser 🌞
( 2.2 hrs on record )
Posted: June 13
A difficult recommendation.

The Westport Incident tries to hit the same trigger "Papers, Please" did and show how difficult it is to operate within a repressive dictatorship. You are taking the role of a newspaper editor who has to basically choose between being a government mouthpiece, and keeping the paper running while being complicit in the government repression; or reporting the news in a more truthful manner, but by doing so putting not just the paper, but also your employees at risk.

Gameplay consists of choosing which articles to put in the paper, how to present them, and who to write the article. For example you may get an article about a bombing. Articles can be roughly separated in two categories: politics and fluff.
Fluff is without risk, but doesn't do much for your paper's popularity.
Politics is where the risk is.
If you are fully loyal throughout it's easy to complete the game, although you do end up supporting a totalitarian regime.
If you decide to be disloyal (and report the truth), you will run into several problems. The most clear one is that if you become too disloyal to the government before time runs out, the paper is closed and the game ends. But even if you try to balance this somewhat by occasionally reporting something with a government slant or publishing fluff instead, you may still risk your employees as they all have their own suspicion meter. Allow this to go too high and they are arrested and you will have one fewer article you can print each week.
Increasing the difficulty further is that your employees have different political leanings, a Loyalist supporter will not be happy to write against his government, for example.

The various loyalties and suspicion rates make the game pretty difficult to balance. There are several possible endings, and it will require multiple playthroughs to unlock them all.

While I like the concept a lot, I have a few issues with this game and they hold it back from being a new classic like its obvious inspiration Papers, Please.
First off, the various mechanics are not really explained. Unless you read this or other reviews, your first playthrough you will likely have no idea about the different employees' suspicion meters, and their arrest will come at a complete surprise. The game has a too brief tutorial and it doesn't tell you about this at all. It is also not clear exactly how the advertisement works, and if this even matters. Each district has two subjects it cares about, but does that mean you are wasting advertisement points by still placing adverts in a district if your paper doesn't include a subject they like? The game doesn't tell you this.
Second, the presentation. There is no voice acting outside of the intro, there is very little animation, and the game simply does not look that impressive. You will be spending most of your time on the same screen just sliding things around with no variation.

For $/€ 10 as it currently priced on Steam I expect more from a game, but at a discount price I can recommend it.

Pick it up if you like Papers, Please, or the idea of working as a newspaper censor in a totalitarion society.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
par
( 1.1 hrs on record )
Posted: June 13
It's an interesting concept, but not much of a game. A single playthrough should not take more than an hour, and I can't see much reason to replay it because it's a bit tedious and empty, with no real sense of control over outcomes, no outside system to affect, no personal life to manage, and no plot. My point isn't that games need to have these things, but it helps to have something of substance, doesn't it? This is a bit like solitaire without the replay value.

You alternate between choosing which stories to run, and viewing little cutscenes. This happens about 12 times.

In the cutscenes, the employees gossip lightly about their realistically depressing personal lives in a way that has no clear connection to anything you've done. These cutscenes are ignorable and don't really carry a lot of plot or character.

Editing has a few wrinkles which don't really do anything. Mostly, it is just choosing stories. Occasionally you might strike out a paragraph to avoid making the government or whoever angry. This has no obvious cost, there is no particular information to consider; it's just an arbitrary choice. If the person you give a story to refuses to write it, then you just choose another. Makes you want to hire an understudy who you can just hand the stories to, and they will shop the stories around until each one has a writer. Then there are the letters you receive, but can't read unless you drag them to exactly the right part of the screen.

After each cycle, you get a little feedback about how the papers sold and how they shifted public opinion, for all the difference it seems to make.

After the last cycle, you get different ending texts which might reflect your choices. Or maybe not, it's not very clear. I think I'll skip replaying this for achievements which just meant that I sat in the chair a few more hours like this one.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Metzge
( 2.3 hrs on record )
Posted: May 24
Product received for free
A haiku summing up my feels on The Westport Independent:

The press is power;
Yet all your time is just spent;
On shuffling words.

----------

I got this game as a gift through Humble Bundle and it seemed pretty interesting: player takes on the role of a newspaper editor in an authoritarian dictatorship pushing censorship. Each week (for 12 weeks), you go through various articles and adjust how they read, both by crossing out certain paragraphs or changing up headlines, as well as planning the actual layout of the paper and marketing to certain districts within Westport. You can attempt to sway the populace to support the Loyalist government or try to incite rebel sympathy, all which affect the outcome of the game at the end. My only gripe I really have with the game, however, is that, while it's an interesting concept playing on the Papers, Please vibe, I wish the devs spent more time fleshing out the mechanics of the game. For example, there's only twelve weeks with each week consisting of editing and publishing four articles; after the second week, you've already been introduced to all the mechanics and, depending on how much you follow the Loyalists' censorship guidelines, you'll get different endings. But even then, the problem with that is each of the four districts' endings are independent from each other (there can be parades in the North, while riots and outright war are ravaging in the East and South, with no clear indication who won and if those decisions mattered). Of course, this could easily be fixed by just developing the world and what the player can do in it, as well as provide increasing difficulty throughout a playthrough.

While $9.99 USD is a tad steep for a game that can be played through in under an hour, it is a good introduction to the world of Westport and an experimentation in games that focus on censorship, writing, and the power of the press. There just needs to be more next time.
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mcantelon
( 1.7 hrs on record )
Posted: May 23
I wished I'd read the reviews before purchasing this on impulse. The Westport Independent is ibviously "Papers Please" inspired, but without the fun, charm, and excitement. I played through it in an hour and had no desire to replay it (according to other reviews there's little difference in subsequent replays, anyways).

In terms of story, the bogeyman of fascism is heavily leaned upon, but the game would have been more interesting and relevant if it took on corruption and abuse of power in modern democracy. The abandonware game Floor 13 is similar in some ways to The Westport Independent, but is much more interesting and engaging.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
-[c-unit]- dark-crow
( 1.8 hrs on record )
Posted: May 22
Well 10€ would be too much but for 2€ this game is okay. At least there is some replay value. I played it two times.
Only problem is that it feels like you can't really fail in this game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
The Unicorn Wizard
( 0.8 hrs on record )
Posted: May 20
The Westport Independent has an interesting concept but it isn't backed up by its gameplay.

You are the editor of an independent paper and in 12 weeks the loyalist government will shut you down and enstate their own propaganda newspapers. What you must do is choose which articles are printed each week and which of your writers will write them. You can choose the headline of each article and delete any paragraphs in the articles. After a few in game weeks you also get to choose which articles get the front page and how much of your marketing budget to put into the four areas of the country. This is very simple and it basically tells you where to put your money. Moreover, there are only 2 headlines to pick for each article and a maximum of 4 paragraphs to censor.
Each member of your group has a name and a sliver of a backstory, with information about whether they support the rebels of the loyalists. They also each have a comfort meter which will decrease if you force them to write articles they disagree with.

You really have to make your own goals in this game. You choose whether to publish articles about celebrities, industry or articles that praise or disparage the government. Each article you chose will affect your paper's popularity, the government's suspicion of you and the public's opinion on the rebels and the loyalists.

My problem with the game stems from the fact that there is no objective, no goals to reach for. You have to set your own. Do you want the public to support the rebels or the government, or will you focus on celeb gossip to sell papers. Normally I enjoy games where you make your own fun but there was little motivation to do anything in The Westport Independent. Personally I found it easy to sell papers as long as you put a bit of everything in and by the end my government suspision was ridiculously high with no negative effects apart from a few letters warning me not to badmouth the loyalists.
Your staff members can also be taken out by government officials if they write too much rebel propaganda but I found it hard to care as they have only barebones backstories and barely any personality. On top of that they're literally faceless, only being presented in silouhette. They do chat amongst each other in between levels but nothing really separated the characters other than two liked the loyalists and two liked the rebels. On that note, I found it hard to care for the paper as well. Sure I wanted it to do well but only because then there'd be no more levels to play. As for the rebels and the government I think the game needs to be less black and white and have a few more gray areas. In all the articles the government is clearly shown as evil and despotic or the paragon of kindness, should you choose the other headline. There's no middle ground and it makes it hard to want to support them in any way.

I gather that the point of the game is to make you endure the struggles of censorship in a world where your government is truly evil but the game fails to make this difficult and therefore it lacks impact. I managed to come up with a paper that was popular all over the country with litle government interference while disparaging them every chance I got.

The game ends very anticlimactically. You get a written description of what's now happening in each district of the country but it doesn't feel like anything has been achieved. This is a consequence of the lack of any objectives.

The game isn't all bad though. It's short and has a decent bit of music in.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
16 of 16 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 13
A difficult recommendation.

The Westport Incident tries to hit the same trigger "Papers, Please" did and show how difficult it is to operate within a repressive dictatorship. You are taking the role of a newspaper editor who has to basically choose between being a government mouthpiece, and keeping the paper running while being complicit in the government repression; or reporting the news in a more truthful manner, but by doing so putting not just the paper, but also your employees at risk.

Gameplay consists of choosing which articles to put in the paper, how to present them, and who to write the article. For example you may get an article about a bombing. Articles can be roughly separated in two categories: politics and fluff.
Fluff is without risk, but doesn't do much for your paper's popularity.
Politics is where the risk is.
If you are fully loyal throughout it's easy to complete the game, although you do end up supporting a totalitarian regime.
If you decide to be disloyal (and report the truth), you will run into several problems. The most clear one is that if you become too disloyal to the government before time runs out, the paper is closed and the game ends. But even if you try to balance this somewhat by occasionally reporting something with a government slant or publishing fluff instead, you may still risk your employees as they all have their own suspicion meter. Allow this to go too high and they are arrested and you will have one fewer article you can print each week.
Increasing the difficulty further is that your employees have different political leanings, a Loyalist supporter will not be happy to write against his government, for example.

The various loyalties and suspicion rates make the game pretty difficult to balance. There are several possible endings, and it will require multiple playthroughs to unlock them all.

While I like the concept a lot, I have a few issues with this game and they hold it back from being a new classic like its obvious inspiration Papers, Please.
First off, the various mechanics are not really explained. Unless you read this or other reviews, your first playthrough you will likely have no idea about the different employees' suspicion meters, and their arrest will come at a complete surprise. The game has a too brief tutorial and it doesn't tell you about this at all. It is also not clear exactly how the advertisement works, and if this even matters. Each district has two subjects it cares about, but does that mean you are wasting advertisement points by still placing adverts in a district if your paper doesn't include a subject they like? The game doesn't tell you this.
Second, the presentation. There is no voice acting outside of the intro, there is very little animation, and the game simply does not look that impressive. You will be spending most of your time on the same screen just sliding things around with no variation.

For $/€ 10 as it currently priced on Steam I expect more from a game, but at a discount price I can recommend it.

Pick it up if you like Papers, Please, or the idea of working as a newspaper censor in a totalitarion society.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
6.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 17
A minimalistic game inspired by Papers, Please.
You play as an editor at a newspaper
that is being watched by the fascist government.

You have to decide to either censor the news by removing certain details and spinning the headlines
or you report critically against your own government, causing yourself and your employees trouble.

It is a numbers game, meaning you are trying to balance loyalist/rebel support, your suspicion with the fascists, aswell as the popularity of your newspapers by managing marketing aspects.

Your first playthrough of it will be about an hour long.
The replayability is naturally high.

Games like this... really make you think.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 13
It's an interesting concept, but not much of a game. A single playthrough should not take more than an hour, and I can't see much reason to replay it because it's a bit tedious and empty, with no real sense of control over outcomes, no outside system to affect, no personal life to manage, and no plot. My point isn't that games need to have these things, but it helps to have something of substance, doesn't it? This is a bit like solitaire without the replay value.

You alternate between choosing which stories to run, and viewing little cutscenes. This happens about 12 times.

In the cutscenes, the employees gossip lightly about their realistically depressing personal lives in a way that has no clear connection to anything you've done. These cutscenes are ignorable and don't really carry a lot of plot or character.

Editing has a few wrinkles which don't really do anything. Mostly, it is just choosing stories. Occasionally you might strike out a paragraph to avoid making the government or whoever angry. This has no obvious cost, there is no particular information to consider; it's just an arbitrary choice. If the person you give a story to refuses to write it, then you just choose another. Makes you want to hire an understudy who you can just hand the stories to, and they will shop the stories around until each one has a writer. Then there are the letters you receive, but can't read unless you drag them to exactly the right part of the screen.

After each cycle, you get a little feedback about how the papers sold and how they shifted public opinion, for all the difference it seems to make.

After the last cycle, you get different ending texts which might reflect your choices. Or maybe not, it's not very clear. I think I'll skip replaying this for achievements which just meant that I sat in the chair a few more hours like this one.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
392 of 480 people (82%) found this review helpful
10 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
4.7 hrs on record
Pre-Release Review
Posted: January 21
The inevitable comparisons between The Westport Independent and Papers, Please are kind of unavoidable. With its lo-fi visual style, themes of an oppressive totalitarian government and it's simple drag-and-drop mechanics it shares a lot of similarities with Lucas Pope's 2013 indie hit. (And is almost a carbon copy of Pope's earlier gamejam game - The Republia Times.)

But where it differs is in its ability (or lack there of) to engage with the player and create feelings of empathy for the game's characters through its mundane, paper pushing actions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF0UWc-pimY

At it's heart The Westport Independent is a management sim. You are the editor-in-chief of one of the last remaining independent newspapers in Westport and its your job to get the truth out to the public. Unfortunately the new Loyalist government has other ideas and its new Public Culture Bill is crushing free speech and freedom of the press throughout the country. You must tread that fine line between reporting the news accurately and not raising the suspicions of government too much.

You do this by picking out which stories you think you can get past the unblinking eye of Big Brother, changing the headlines and censoring certain sections of the story as necessary. You assign these articles to your reporters who all have their own political allegiancies and levels of suspicion from the government. And all this whilst trying to maintain the papers popularity.

But whereas Papers, Please had you really caring for your little immigration inspector, his family and even the people passing through his booth in The Westport Independent I felt nothing for the editor, the reporters or even if the paper [inevitably] got shutdown.

What's more there is no urgency to the game. In Papers, Please you had that ticking clock adding to the stress of processing people quickly & accurately but also the need to fill your quota for the day so you could actually feed your family. In Westport you do have a countdown to when the Culture Bill passes in 12 weeks time but whilst you are sat at you desk no time passes what so ever.

It's a real shame as I had high hopes for the game, as I thought the idea of trying to maintain an honest news organisation under the heel of an oppressive government is a fantastic concept. Unfortunately the execution just feels a little lacklustre.
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194 of 226 people (86%) found this review helpful
10 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
Look at the time i spent playing this game. Yup, that is a single playthrough. 12 turns, that is all.

Replay value seems minor as there are hard repurcussions for extremes, so there is no Papers Please-esque payoff to certain actions.

That said, this game has a lot of potential, and if the gameplay lasted for longer than 12 weeks (turns) i would be able to recommend this game.

As it is now, however, why would i pay 10 euro for a game that entertains me for a shorter time than most Youtube content?
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112 of 141 people (79%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
Sadly I cannot recommend. The demo had 7 weeks, and this only has 5 more. I thought this game was going to be significatly longer, and may have some business management to it. Sadly that it not so.
This somehow felt like it was just about to get to the climax when it ended, which utimately was a let down.
The art style however, is beautiful, and the work on lore and background is great.

*Edit 1*
Hm, that's odd, the top reviews on the page have suddenly shifted.. the first displayed ones are now positive with the reviews being rated less helpful then others farther down the list.
There's also a sudden surge of positive reviews. Odd.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
75 of 90 people (83%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
I would like you to note my playtime...

I had high hopes for this game but sadly it fell short. I started with a full Loyalist playthrough and it was dead easy. I had my more rebel leaning journalist write about celebrity gossip and my loyalist leaning journalists write about the glorious actions of our beloved government (Heavily censored of course) so that they would always feel safe and be happy. I quickly gained big favour with the Loyalists, turned all four districts to full loyalist support and won the game. On my second playthrough I decided to, no matter what, go full rebel!

...The Loyalists arrested Frank on turn four. I think he was the one that was a rebel, here you see how much the game had me care about the employees. I don't know who is who...). The Loyalists then shut me down at turn six.

I can see that the challenge of the game is to run a rebellious newspaper without getting shut down and hopefully see the Rebels overthrow the Loyalists in the end of the game but frankly I can't be bothered to try, not now anyway. When playing as a loyalist there is really nothing that counts against you since there is no risk that rebels attack your offices.

Many people have compared this game to Papers Please, and I can see why as they are set I very similar environments, and with similar gameplay elements, like the big bad government and resistance movements. But in Papers Please, going for either one brought different challenges and different rewards. I would like to point to my previous paragraph and once again point out that the rebels are no threat to you in this game.

Is this game worth its price? Absolutely not! The game is maximum twelve turns and i've seen people finish it in around 40 minutes. For me it took an hour. If you want to test it out I suggest that you buy it on the appstore instead where the price is around half of Steams price. Some things change, such as which articles appear on which turn but on my second playthrough I didn't really see any new articles that I didn't get in my previous playtrough. Between turns there is a cutscene where your journalists discuss the current state of the country somewhat based on the articles you decide to print but how the discuss them don't really change depending on what you censor and to which side you lean.

It's a good concept but it doesn't feel finished or fleshed out and for that I can't recommend it as of now.
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46 of 57 people (81%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
I am going to mark this as a recommendation, not because I wholeheartedly recommend this game but because Steam's review section is so limited. I would say, pick this up on a sale.
TLDR; If you liked Paper's Please you'll like this but be warned it's MUCH shorter and also more limited.

I actually really did quite enjoy this, and I would disagree with some of the reviews around that say it doesn't provoke empathy as Papers Please did. No, it doesn't to the same degree, cos there is a smaller cast of characters; it's just you in your office with your writers after all.
But it does match PP in that it still has that oppressive atmosphere that has you want to achieve a greater task against a bigger power holding you down, and the stories give the world a sense of place, with many running stories across each week.
You will see through the eyes of this editor the many totalitarian practices the government is enforcing on its citizens, as well as the rebel's acts of terrorism (I do feel the story aspects are much more one sided on being anti government admittedly), and it is down to you to try and get the truth out without endangering yourself, your staff or your business. It feels like a reverse Ministry of Truth from 1984.

If you're a fan of Papers Please there's a lot to like here thematically, so why is there no unreserved recommendation?
The major concern is that this is a much more limited game than PP.

First, it doesn't have the same gameplay; PP was like a puzzle game that required you to not only be accurate but quick for best results. This is just you making a choice - which articles to run, which sections in it to censor, which writer do you give it, where do the articles go in the paper in terms of priority, and to who do we market the paper to?
This last variable however seems completely useless as far as I can tell, I'm not quite sure how your sales affect your playing experience frankly.

Occasionally, you will get menacing messages across your desk from government/rebel forces warning you of your actions, but as far as I can tell, as long as you don't max out your suspicion meter you're fine - don't seem to be any instant failure states like PP did.

It took me an hour to finish one run, and from what I can see endings aren't as varied as PP either; it's more a slide show of variables that are affected in binary ways, a la Fallout 3's ending.

If you can get it really cheap it's worth a look, it's not a bad game but it is quite limited
6/10
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20 of 21 people (95%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: April 17
Unfortunately, I can not recommend this game, even though I was hoping it'd be good.

As many others have mentioned, it seems quite similar to "Papers,please" (a game I really liked a lot), and I think that's due to
- the old school graphics which look pretty much like a C64 game. However, it doesn't matter much, as Papers, Please proved (even though I think it should be obvious) that a game doesn't need triple A graphics and can be fun even when it looks very outdated, as long as the GAME is good!
- The theme... the story is set in a region/country with a quite oppressive government, and you have to play along with the rules or suffer harsh consequences
- The fact that you have to decide a lot whether you DO play by the rules, or try to be rebellious.

And I think the game COULD have been fun. However... please take a look at the amount of time I played. That's one and a quarter playthrough...

Yes.

Uh huh, I am serious. I finished the game in what, 33 or 38 minutes? I can't for the life of me understand why there are only 12 "rounds". 12 weeks where you put together a newspaper with 4 articles once per week.
You have different authors, some more in line with the regime, others rather rebellious. You decide whether you print news about politics and spin them to make the government look nice and caring, or try to tell people the truth.

For my first playthrough, I tried to satisfy the government just to see how that'd go. And I finished the game after less than 40 minutes. SO I figured, "Ok", maybe this is supposed to be played several times with different decisions.
However, the replayability suffers because everything stays pretty much the same...your editors, their cutscenes in between weeks (even though they do refer sometimes to decisions you made, many of them stayed the same the second time I played), the headlines/stories.
If they at least had put in randomly generated editors, so you'd have SOME variety when starting over. If they had put a pool of possible stories. I saw the exact same ones in my second game, so even though the game is short, I totally lost interest in replaying during, I think, week 4 of game 2. I had tried to "rebel" against the government this time, but with THAT much repetition, it felt dull.

I think this game COULD have been cool had they put in more randomly generated stuff. More variety. An increasing difficulty (like Papers please, where each day, a new thing to watch out for would be added or changed). More "time". Why only 12 rounds? This feels like a demo for a much bigger game, but sadly, that's all there is.

Even on sale, I don't think the game offers enough for about 5 EUR, not when there are games with more content and depth for like 99 cents. This had the potential to be good or at least decent, but now its a demo-sized game that feels as if the devs started with a great idea and then either lost interest, ran out of ideas or had to meet a deadline and finished the game in a rather basic shape.
Too bad, I would have enjoyed a Papers,please type game with different story and mechanics (newspapers instead of a customs officer), but this is just too little content, gameplay and mechanics. Try it if it's on sale for a buck or two, but I don't think this is worth 5-10 EUR.
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22 of 28 people (79%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 22
As it describes itself, The Westport Independent is a “censorship simulator” in which you take the role of an newspaper editor who must decide whose version of the truth your newspaper will print. However, The Westport Independent never emerges from the shadow that Papers Please seems to cast over it.


Story

Set in the fictional town of Westport, The Westport Independent sets you as the editor of one of the last few independent newspapers in town. The town is torn between two factions, the fascist government known as the Loyalist party and the unnamed “Rebels”. As the story begins you are informed of the new “Public Culture Bill” which in 12 weeks will cause your independent newspaper to shut down and be handed over to the government. As the editor it is your job to assign stories to your four writers, censor whatever stories come in and decide what side of the truth to tell. Each week is interceded by a table discussion between your writers about what is going on in their lives and in Westport in general.


Gameplay and Thoughts

The gameplay is very interesting and screams Papers, Please. The gameplay falls into 2 basic stages. Reading, censoring and assigning articles for your writers and marketing. At the start of each week (one turn in this game of twelve turns) about six articles come across your desk. Your job is to read through them and decide whether to give each article a pro or anti government bias or even to run it at all. Running certain articles will affect the opinion of the city and can swing them from complacency to rebellion in a matter of weeks. However, running an anti-government newspaper will attract the attention of the Loyalist Party which will threaten your newspaper and may even kidnap some of your writers. The second portion of the gameplay is after you select what articles to publish. You take these articles and physically arrange what page they go on in the paper. Then you drag sliders to target certain districts and areas within the city. In total, each week takes about 5 minutes tops. For a twelve week long game, this amounts to each game taking 45 minutes to an hour to complete.


However, there is little replay value after doing one playthrough as a Loyalist Newspaper and one playthrough as a Rebel Newspaper. There is also a weird discrepancy between the two. A loyalist newspaper is very easy to do, no problems from anybody but also no notice from any of the Loyalist party. None of the writers will leave if you make them write Loyalist articles. This does not ring true for the other side of the coin. Playing as a Rebel newspaper is fraught with dealing with the Loyalists and having your writers kidnapped and your writers straight up quitting. Though the bump in difficulty is a welcome challenge, it stands in a stark contrast to the absolute stroll that is having a Loyalist newspaper.

All in all, the gameplay is short but entertaining. However, it feels like the successor to “Papers Please” (Though it is not made by the same people, there are too many similarities, whether they are intentional or not , to not draw comparisons) without capturing the essence of what made Papers Please successful. The lack of human interaction and missing the effect of your newspaper that really makes the game feel like its missing the soul and character that Papers Please was able to capture. This coupled with the extremely short length left a sour taste in my mouth as the credits rolled.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics are not intensive at all, with pixelated text being 99.9% of the game, running this game would take only the most basic of graphics cards. The settings really only account for changing the resolution which in my opinion is just fine as no fine tuning should be needed as there is little movement or effects on the screen.

The soundtrack is nice, consisting of one single repeating song that sinks silently into your subconscious. Sounding like something straight out of Casablanca, this song quietly hums in the background and helps set a nice tone for the game.

Conclusion

I have very mixed feelings about The Westport Incident. On one hand it is a good game. It presents a good, thoughtful message. It really lets you see that the city of Westport is tearing itself apart and lets you step into tip the scales in one groups favor. The Westport Incident brings interesting and unique mechanics to the table that are really only ever seen in Papers Please. However, in this case, it seems the bad outweighs the good.

Though the game tries to come off as very deep and thought provoking, it provides no real moral dilemma or anything where you can’t simply game the system to get everything you want. I honestly felt no emotional connection to the writers and didn’t care about them besides the fact that it would mean I could only write 3 articles a week rather than 4. The publishing and marketing section of the game is very weak as the order you put the articles in doesn't really seem to matter and the areas you target are easy to master and take very little skill at all. After my 35 minute playthrough, The Westport Incident tried to get me to care about the city through a five minute long, unskippable, all text end credit sequence which told me about everything in the city. I feel as though this was not very effective and it did not make me care as it was already too late. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the game is its length. It took me an hour and a half minutes to beat the game twice on my first two playthroughs. Had you been making a newspaper daily for 12 weeks rather than weekly (resulting in 84 turns rather than 12), I feel as though the game would have been much more interesting and definitely much more worth it. Though The Westport Independent has touched on interesting ideas and mechanics, it fails to capture the character and spirit of Papers Please which it is inevitably compared to. However, even without this comparison, The Westport Independent is too short to really leave an impression on the player.

Final Rating:

5/10; What could have been a great game is stifled due to length, lack of emotion and a lack of challenge.
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