written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
The world of Mr. Robot is one steeped in psychological intrigue in a technologically advanced modern world; poignant considering the current events of the world today. Hacking and the prevalent nature of anonymous hacktivism play a major role in the drama of the story's narrative.
Set during the events of the first season, you the player are... You. You pick up a lost phone and immediately start using it. After booting up the system OS, created by E Corp... The overarching "Evil" corporation of Mr. Robot, you are quickly thrust into the world of digital espionage.
The phone you picked up actually belongs to a high ranking figure of "fsociety" and after rebooting the device you discover that there is a file on the phone this hacktivist needs.
What follows are a series of text based interactions via the E Corp messaging app. You field messages from fsociety figures along with random people who don’t realize who it is they are really texting.
The experience lasts about a week in real time, the game notifies you when you get new messages and when you can interact with the world again. While I wouldn’t entirely call it an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) since the story itself takes place in New York and the userbase can be anywhere from Miami to Seattle, but with the forced week long narrative, if you have an active enough imagination you can feel how immersive the experience is despite the simple UI.
If you ever played Emily Is Away the gameplay of Mr. Robot will feel familiar. You pick a series of responses which are predetermined to better follow the core narrative. While I held a measure of control over my responses, I can’t help but feel like regardless of what I choose, the whole experience ends the same way.
Where Mr. Robot does succeed is in immersing the player in this world. Even if you have a limited understanding of hacking, the game makes you feel like a member of fsociety in a big way. Notifications for the game look like genuine text notifications and even navigating the UI feels natural. I found myself lost in this world many a time while playing.
The downside is also part of what makes the game charming. The forced week-long narrative gives the experience a very tangible feeling, but for the casual gamer that say only pops into a mobile game while on the train or bus to/from work… it doesn’t really cater well to those players. Like actively responding to real text messages, when you let notifications pile up, the narrative is a bit lost and can kick the player out of their sense of immersion.
The story takes place immediately after the sixth episode (eps1.5_br4ve-trave1er.asf) of the first season and also helps to explain some of the show’s unexplained events. The experience is thrilling and as a tie-in product for the series, it delivers gloriously.
As a companion to the series, it’s hard to think of any other mobile game that does a better job than this to really put you in the world. Despite how short and albeit clunky the gameplay felt at times, it ended up being quite memorable… and as a fan of the show, I got even more out of my time with Mr. Robot 1.51exfiltrati0n. Well worth the price of admission people.
+ Immersive story telling
+ Clean/Simple UI
+ Engaging narrative
- Short story
- Forced week-long narrative can be tough for busier folks