Influence, Inc is an influencer management/simulator by studio Curious Bird which asks the most important of questions: how will you deal with the power of influencing people in taking certain decisions? Will you, perhaps, steer them towards the path of righteousness, denouncing dishonest politicians and shady tactics, or will you just align with whoever is paying the most and make profit the only goal? Find out in our Influence Inc review.
At the start, we’ll be asked to choose the name of our agency, along with quickly choosing a logo and then, right away, the inbox will get flooded with tasks. A quick tutorial will guide us through the use of the tools to complete the tasks. In the beginning, these will be mostly mundane ones, like promoting the new album of an artist or a fizzy beverage. But they will help greatly in understanding how to use each tool at our disposal and, also, how these function in the real world as well. Mostly, you will be busy managing your time and resources as most tasks given will need to be completed before a certain deadline.
It won’t be long before some more “morally doubtful” tasks will come our way. Such as avoiding that news of protests against the government will reach the public. Or even pushing down topics about presidential corruption. Easier said than done, sure, so you’ll have to avoid exposing certain facts and only push positive hashtags and reassuring narratives over social networks. The game takes an almost “documentary” stance towards the topics of propaganda and advertising, informing you of how to use each tool at your agency’s disposal and presenting the technology in a very matter-of-fact way. These tools are not, per se, good or bad, it’s the use we, as in the collective “we”, decide to make of them, along with how much of our time and attention devoted to social networks.
Influence Inc‘s interface is clean and efficiently shows trending topics and an inbox. From our inbox, you’ll be able to use certain attachments in order to explore topics and tell our online personas to start spreading the chosen hashtags. For example, you might want to leak selected information to certain newspapers and media agencies. Choosing the appropriate outlet for the topic will be of utmost importance to ensure they will run said news. Also, you can make use of a Compromiser to uncover certain facts about people (musicians and, well especially, politicians) and leak the information to the public.
While Influence, Inc could hardly be described as a quirky management simulation in the vein of Two Point Hospital or even a dark critique of the overall government propaganda machine like Papers, Please, its dry black humour and very matter-of-fact explanations feel like a breath of fresh air. Learning how each tool can be used effectively is very much a course in reality, almost a crash course in what happened with Cambridge Analytica. Depending on our choices, there will be different endings, with five outcomes to unlock.
Indeed, it is all about making a choice. That’s what life is all about, but, well, many times there is no clear right or wrong path. In this, Curious Bird’s game does not seem to push any kind of narrative on the player: you’re free to take your own path and even to change course at the last minute. Should we denounce the president’s current scandals, instead of saying yes to his request? You can do it. Want to denounce scandals and then, after, push his campaign? Also, possible. Influence, Inc. allows a degree of freedom that has been rarely attempted, even in similar games.
Graphically, Influence, Inc. does its best to look like a presentation one would see on the first day at the office, which definitely makes sense with its overall message and idea. The developers reflected on why they did not go for a darker look and their reasoning was that propaganda doesn’t always look like an obscure dystopia. Sometimes it just looks like a new fun business venture. Clearly, intended the game to bring its message first and foremost. Perhaps, the soundtrack could have offered something more, instead of just staying in the background.
I do not write this very often, but Influence, Inc. feels like an essential title. One not afraid to touch upon important issues, directly explaining to the player how such real-life mechanisms and things work. It might not have all of the answers, but it does have many important questions to ask of us. These systems that, whether we like it or not, end up influencing much of our daily lives. A simple 45 minutes playthrough means taking a step forward in being informed on the tools of propaganda and social networks. This, I feel, is quite more important than most discussions about “graphics”, “fun” or even longevity. If the topic of influencing people in making decisions and the mechanisms of social networks interest you – and I reckon it definitely should – then this is the title for you.
The review was made with a review key made available by the developer. Influence, Inc is available on Steam.
Platform : [PC]
Developer: Curious Bird
Genre: Management simulator
Release Date: May 2022
Influence, Inc.: Influence, Inc is quite an efficient simulator of modern propaganda tools, essential for anyone looking to understand how social networks influence our daily lives and decision making processes. – Voxel Smash Staff