Roleplaying games can enable us to do things only possible in our imagination. They can let us fly, conjure magic, or save the world. My favorite roleplaying games, however, are those that still keep us anchored to realism in some way. These games present us with no easy choices and with substantial consequences for choosing poorly.
Revolution 60 is a game that challenges players to move forward and make decisions while never knowing anything for certain. It is a game of making calculated risks and working with whatever the outcome may be. If you are looking for an accessible iOS game with solid sci-fi storytelling to share with your kids, Revolution 60 is the right candidate.
Revolution 60 is the first title from Giant Spacekat. It’s currently available for iOS devices with planned development for PC and Mac. The game has no ESRB rating but is comparable to games rated T for Teen in terms of language and violence. It has been self-rated by the developer as appropriate for ages 12 and up. The violence is cartoonish and no more graphic than an average kid’s TV show. The language is not absolutely pristine, but it’s nothing gratuitous or unfamiliar to most kids in their teens. The gameplay is intuitive enough for younger players, or parents newer to gaming, to pick up easily. The storyline is simple enough for young players to understand, but the game has a depth that older and younger players alike can appreciate.
Revolution 60 tells the story of a small squad of agents working for an elite spy agency known as Chessboard. The events of Revolution 60 are set in earth’s not-too-distant future. Players spend most of their time in Revolution 60 as Holiday, an assassin. Holiday forms the muscle of the four-person team, together with the team pilot, code-named “Unknown.” The other two members of the team include the mission commander, Minuet, and a civilian engineer, Amelia. While they fit into familiar action adventure tropes at first, these characters are complex individuals, which is something players learn through the course of the game. As the stress of the mission takes its toll on Holiday and her compatriots, players see more of the complications and doubts that lurk behind the characters’ disciplined and composed facades. The game introduces players to characters that seem familiar but quickly complicates that familiarity. I found myself regularly questioning what I really knew about these characters, just as they were constantly questioning themselves and each other.
Holiday is an action hero who has to think things through. Players are confronted with tough decisions to make for Holiday, and these decisions can mean the difference between mission success or failure. As Holiday works through mistakes, bad choices, and uncertain guesses, players get to see a part of the hero that we do not always see in fiction. We get to see a hero caught in doubt.
But Holiday doesn’t just deal with self-doubt. Anything and everything seems to be up in the air as she progresses through the story. Along with Holiday, I found myself struggling to decide what was truly the best choice among uncertain options. For all her capability and confidence, Holiday is often just out of control of the situation. The hero’s anxiety and desire to know for sure that she did the right thing became my own. I have often shared in a character’s feeling of triumph in games, but sharing their uncertainty is an unusual and refreshing motif in Revolution 60. This change in pace from the usual RPG more closely resembles real life. Rarely do we have all the answers, and any assumption that we do know all can blowup in our faces. Such is the case with our protagonists in Revolution 60 as well.
Combat in Revolution 60 requires good timing and reflexes. Instead of attempting to reproduce the console experience, Revolution 60 breaks new ground by taking advantage of the touch interface native to the mobile platform. Gameplay is focused on well-coordinated tapping and following precise gestures on a track. The precision gesture system is also used for out-of-combat actions throughout the game. This system keeps players engaged during cutscenes and helps develop a sense of being involved in the story even when there is neither combat nor roleplay decisions to be made.
The fact that every character is a woman sends an excellent message to young players that women can fill any role. Women can be heroes, leaders, villains, and tech geniuses. Since women fill every role in the game’s narrative, Revolution 60 avoids the exceptionalism or tokenism that gets attached to some female characters in video games. The message is clear that women in any role is simply the norm rather than any extraordinary circumstance. The characters are also written to be relatable despite having abilities far beyond any average person. Children can relate to these female characters as capable and powerful and recognize similar strength in themselves and the women they know.
Another opportunity for discussion in Revolution 60 arises out of the choices and consequences players must face. A lack of experience is a defining attribute of youth. No matter how skilled or advanced we were as children, all of us were filled with doubts or false confidence as we entered our teens. Children should be able to see some of their own situations in Holiday’s. Children may be smart or accomplished, but childhood is filled with uncertainties and things beyond our control. Revolution 60 offers a lot of space for discussion with younger players about how we move forward in a situation where we do not have all the answers. As you play through Revolution 60, you will make mistakes. There will be some choices you make that you will regret. What parents can help kids recognize is that Holiday is admirable even though she doesn’t have all the answers; she is not less of a hero just because she makes mistakes. We still are rooting for Holiday, even if she fails in her mission.
It’s important for kids to understand that we all sometimes have to make do with what we have. Sometimes we have to work through life operating on our best guesses until the right choices become clear. Kids need to know that they can make mistakes, and still be the hero of their own life. Parents need their kids to know that there will be someone still cheering for them when they fail.
Revolution 60 is a great game with an engaging story that can teach both parents and kids that sometimes we just have to dust ourselves off after a loss, learn from our errors, and try again.