This title was reviewed on PS4, but is also available on PC and Xbox One.
It isn’t very often when a game is set in my home country. I mean sure you have Forza Horizon 4, Killing Floor, and The Getaway,but they’re few and far between. Then The Occupation comes along, not only being set in the UK, but the UK in the 80s, and on the verge of becoming a totalitarian state. With such an interesting concept, I couldn’t wait to dive in, but does The Occupation live up to its concept? Let’s have a look.
Being based on the Unreal Engine, The Occupation looks the part. The visuals are crisp and clear, with some decent textures throughout and some neat effects such as street lights reflecting off of the water in the canal section. Characters are well designed too, with attires perfectly matching the 80s era it’s set in, and the art style is solid too.
The Occupation is set in the UK in 1987, with the country in a period of civil unrest due to the potential passing of a new act which could turn the country into a totalitarian state. After a terrorist attack kills multiple people, and a man named Alex Dubois who works at the Carson building is blamed for it, it’s up to an investigative journalist to not only prove Dubois innocent, but to also investigate the new government act and blow the whistle on it to prove to the public that it should never see the light of day. The story is interesting on its own, but the way it’s told is also quite interesting. How much of the story you get is up to you, as a lot of it is hidden or kept under wraps and up to you to find, with there being a ton of clues and hidden bits of evidence to help build your case up.
This brings us to the next interesting concept this game brings to the table: the fact that it’s in real time. The ‘reason’ you’re in the Carson building in the first place is to interview staff about the Act and the attack, and everything is scheduled on your agenda. For example, you have a meeting with Carla at 4PM, but arrive early at 3PM so you have time to snoop around. This isn’t in-game time either, you have an actual real-time hour to snoop around. You’re gonna need that time too, as there’s a lot to find, like door codes, key cards, secret vents, and entrances etc. There’s a ton of stuff to find and the world around you is very interactive, with a ton of stuff to pick up, look at, or use. A lot of these areas are restricted though, so be careful not to get caught. There’s no combat or health system or anything like that, so if you get caught once you get a warning off the security guard, any other time after that though and you’ll be detained in the security room for 15 minutes. You don’t have to sit through that 15 minutes thank god, but it does deduct that 15 minutes off your clock, making you late for some meetings and giving you less time to investigate, as you’re only in the building for 4 hours. The whole real-time concept mixed with the massive amount of interactivity makes the gameplay here a real treat.
It isn’t perfect though, as there’s a lack of polish throughout the game so far. After the introduction I had a crash on the loading screen for the main game, forcing a restart. Textures and even the game’s visuals entirely have a habit of popping in and out of existence, and some inconsistent framerates plague some areas. The A.I is also a bit brain-dead too in some areas, with security guards being quite easy to avoid as long as they don’t sneak up on you. Hopefully these will be fixed in a patch as they plague an otherwise great experience.
Sound design is also solid. Voice acting is top notch from all fronts, and its great hearing British accents in a game done properly, even if Carla has a Liverpool accent which hurts anyone’s ears. Sound effects are great and quite realistic, but the musical score takes the cake, fitting the tense atmosphere perfectly.
There’s a lot to like in The Occupation. The visuals and sounds are great and the gameplay is honestly fantastic. The real-time clock adds some real tension to the game, and the way you interact with almost anything, finding clues and evidence as well as ways to access areas you’re not supposed to make snooping around the Carson building a real treat, with the risk of being detained and losing precious time on top of keeping your schedule really building tension. It also helps that the gameplay works hand-in-hand with a great story that you’ll have to find yourself in as you play. The game does sadly lack polish at the moment, with poor security guard AI, the odd crashes, framerate drops and graphical pop in, but hopefully these will be ironed out in the future.