Do Androids Dream of Robo Revolutions?
Developer Clockwork Bird isn’t new to the cyberpunk world. Their previous game Spinnortality: A Cyberpunk Management Sim received positive reviews and good buzz but now in Silicon Dreams, we’re diving a little deeper in the psychology of a cyberpunk reality.
The game puts you in the shoes of an interrogation android created by Kronos, the big corporate conglomerate that sells android for labor, service and companions. In the vein of a Papers, Please we are set with performing a work like task by investigating varying shady characters that inhabit this world. You do so by asking a plethora of questions regarding their motives, backstory and knowledge of different topics. The questions adapt per your knowledge gained and some answers aren’t obtainable until you gain their trust or put the interrogatee into a specific mood.
The user interface gives you information on the person you’re interrogating such as emotional states/levels, a record of the conversation and even background data. Adding to that, answers can unlock further questions but asking specific questions is always optional. Knowing when a question will set someone off when you are trying to garner trust is a good skill to have here. There’s also added tools of locking someone to the chair in a threatening manner or piping in emotion inducing music and sound effects to get exactly what you want out of a situation.
Your interrogation goals are different per session but they are presented ahead of time so you know what info you’re trying to get. After each interrogation, Kronos reflects on your work and how they feel about the information garnered, grading you along the way. The tricky part about the interrogations is that you don’t know what Kronos will find favorable. Perhaps deciding to dismantle a faulty android will be the “right” answer, but will make the company look unfavorably to the public. It’s a tough tightrope to walk and is an interesting spin on what could’ve been a black and white procedure.
Throughout your inquiries a slow plot builds of an android revolution with the major players finding themselves in your examination seat. Here’s where the twists and turns start to appear. You can participate in the revolution by helping the ones you question, giving advice or even letting go scott free, but even that is a balancing act as if you let too many go, Kronos can take notice and deactivate you.
Here you need to figure out where your allegiances lie. Are androids built to be slaves or can they achieve something greater? Silicon Dreams posits this and other questions like it within its narrative. Does our future lie in android rights or are they purely an object to be used like a tool? The game stays relatively surface level on these philosophical questions but does provide an emotional component to the fiction that hits a little harder than feigning depth in ideology.
It’s a different perspective for sure but the nature of the game is quick to offer resolutions at the drop of a hat that feels unearned. Being able to talk someone out of the android revolution within 2 minutes doesn’t speak well to the dedication of the cause. There’s more to it of course but overall, using the interrogations as the only source of progression with little else happening in game leads to storylines rushing head first to their conclusion at breakneck speeds.
Silicon Dreams provides such an interesting take on a cyberpunk world as told behind the desk of an interrogation android. Adding a level of emotion combined with well crafted voice acting elevates the presentation heavily What holds the game back is with the only story being told through the interrogations. There’s little to no outside story so things wrap up quicker than you’d expect and immersion is lost. I didn’t even realize I was at the end of the game until I saw credits roll, so that speaks to it’s abrupt nature. Silicon Dreams is a neat little indie that’s worth checking out for it’s short time commitment and small asking price of $14.99. It brings new ideas to an already well trodden genre but unfortunately doesn’t nail the landing.