America 2049 is a dystopic game that forces you to venture outside of Facebook
America 2049 is a game that feels as familiar as it does new. It’s set in a dystopic near-future and features some truly engaging alternate reality elements and an interesting back story. But at the same time, while the setting and investigative elements feel fresh, the core gameplay is about as standard as you’re likely to find.
Nearly four decades in the future, the world is in disarray. Dangerous diseases plague areas of Africa and Asia, and a controlling US government has put strict restrictions on its citizens and those who can and can’t come into the country. Those who are thought to be infected are quarantined indefinitely. As an agent for the Council for American Heritage, it’s your job to investigate a potentially dangerous subject who escaped one of these quarantine zones. But are you doing the right thing?
The investigation is done in several different ways. You’re presented with a map, which is divided into sections, and investigating each one will provide new information as well as consume energy. It feels incredibly similar to games like Treasure Isle or CSI: Crime City. Some squares will reveal nothing, but others will provide clues in the form of scraps of paper, audio hints, or puzzles that need to be solved.
In the first level of the game, which is set in Portland, the puzzles range from deciphering passwords to figuring out who needs to be investigated. What’s really cool about America 2049, though, is that this information doesn’t just come from the clues you find on the map. The developers have also set up several websites outside of Facebook, set in the game’s fictional universe, where you can find answers to questions or simply read and watch news stories to learn more about the world.
We played the game with multiple tabs open and a pen and paper ready at hand. These sites outside of the game really help make the world feel more real, and force you to play in a way you’re probably not used to.
For the most part the story and characters are interesting, and the writing and acting are top notch. The problem, at least so far, is the lack of subtlety. The game tackles issues of racial profiling and human rights in ways that are so obvious that it almost takes you out of the game. Seeing an “expert” on the news explaining how a person of color can appear more “normal” just feels contrived.
But it’s a small price to pay for such a unique experience. The only major problem so far with America 2049 is the lack of content currently available. Right now you can only play through the Portland area, which will take just a handful of hours. The next mission won’t be available until April 11. And we can’t wait.