First Look: How To Win

How to Win is an anarchic adventure/gaming experiment where anyone who plays can decide the rules of the world, and which direction the story goes. I played the first few chapters and here are my first impressions.

I was provided a copy of this game for the purposes of this review.

How To Win is actually developed by Hidden Track, a UK-based, multi-award winning theatre company, in partnership with indie dev Cael O’Sullivan to bring interactive theater to the masses via gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic. How To Win is an episodic adventure game/visual novel where each new chapter was based on ideas sent in and voted on by their players. So the first season as they say was voted on during the summer of 2020 and they are preparing for season two voting this summer.

Gameplay wise it is very simple and straightforward, where you are prompted to make choices like any other choice-based visual novel. Sometimes that choices don’t make a huge difference in play, and really just provide different humor opportunities. But there are choices that change how the game will go for you. It is overall very simple.

This game is definitely a commentary on the state of the world, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It approaches it with humor while highlighting some of the ridiculous discrepancies between people during this tumultuous time. So this is not an escapist game where you can forget the real world for a while because it makes critiques on the real world in it. The balance of humor and seriousness is really well done though, so it never felt like I was being preached at. But I will say that I largely already agree with many of the stances this game has, so I was never going to be offended by the material.

Overall I enjoyed what I played. There was just the right amount of humor to keep it fun even with the real world topics they tackle. It’s also fun to see how the voting turns out and what could have been. Plus the concept of fans helping develop the game is really fun.

How To Win Season 1 is available on Steam and Season 2 voting begins this summer.


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