Song of Farca hacked all your secrets…
It’s okay if you’ve never head of Farca before; a tiny island nation in the Mediterranean, Farca may be small, but it has an incredibly complex history that even lifelong citizens may not fully comprehend. And you can be forgiven if you don’t know who Isabella Song is, although if you’re abreast on all things political, you may have heard of her — punching immigration lawyers in the face makes for good headline fodder, as does the subsequent news of her long-term house arrest.
But rest assured, even if you don’t know of Isabella Song or Farca, Song of Farca knows you. And, for the right price, she’ll hack into your home, uncover all your secrets, and change the course of Farca’s history forever.
Song of Farca can be described as Orwell meets Do Not Feed The Monkeys, which is fitting considering Alawar Premium is the publisher behind the latter. A surveillance simulator available on Steam for $19.99, Song of Farca asks players to “hack into crime scenes, look for evidence, analyze data, interrogate criminals, track suspects and deal with the consequences of your decisions.” A ten-ish hour experience that makes you feel like a genius hacker with its scintillating interconnecting storyline and seamless interface, Song of Farca is both extremely fun and a terrifying reminder to tape your webcams.
As is perhaps easily surmised, players take on the role of Isabella Song, who is stuck in her home for the entirety of the game. Of course, that won’t stop Song from taking on work as a private investigator, utilizing a network of hackable cameras and a fleet of drones and robots to be her eyes and ears on the scene. Need to find dirt on a celebrity? Stumped on what gift to give your girlfriend? Solve a series of murders? Take down an evil corporation from within? No case is too big or too small for Song, but one thing is for certain: no information can be hidden from this housebound PI.
Song of Farca’s aesthetics and overall design are very unique and a whole lot of fun. The screen is segmented into two parts — the top third depicts Song’s apartment and all that goes on in those four walls, and the bottom two thirds feature Song’s desktop, where she’ll search the internet for information, speak with clients and suspects alike, and hack into cameras all across Farca. It’s a pretty cool idea that reinforces Song’s house arrest, as you are occasionally snapped out of concentration when Song’s dog starts barking at the door or a drone flies by and beams an ad into the window. Even Song’s ankle monitor blinks a green light from time to time underneath her computer desk. This design choice served to up the immersion factor in Song’s life, and I think it added so much necessary charm for such a story-driven title.
When it comes to interfacing with the bottom section of the screen, Song of Farca makes everything extraordinarily seamless to the point where it’s easy to feel like an actual pro-hacker. Searching a person of interest yields highlighted tidbits about them with a single click, and getting an address means the ability to access all their cameras, offering a peek into homes and businesses. And the fact that you can maneuver around so quickly and easily makes everything feel very natural, as if players are Song herself. There is nothing difficult about interacting with the UI in Song of Farca, lending to the immediate immersion and investment in Song’s life.
Song of Farca features 12 interconnecting cases where the choices you make will determine the outcomes for some of the characters involved. A foe in one case might be a friend in another… if you play your cards right. Of course, the opposite also becomes true as time goes on, and you’ll soon be making decisions that can save lives or lead to certain death. Can you stop an AI from purging itself from existence? Are you able to talk another hacker out of suicide? And just how do you intend to keep a deranged serial killer from taking out more people? And here you thought you were just a private investigator!
During cases, Song will come across puzzles that require her expertise to solve. Parsing through grainy videos to zoom in on important details, using bugbots to lure people away from their hackable computers, and solving riddles to decipher passwords to safes, PCs, and more is just par for the course for Song, a rare moment of pause in an otherwise whirlwind of a story. Although most of the puzzles are fun, the password ones aren’t always grounded in reality. Where one has you guessing important dates to hack a terminal in a high-ranking employee of a corporation, most have you looking at curious pictures of things like dolphins and counting their fins to guess PINs. As a game mechanic it makes perfect sense, but from a human behavior perspective I feel like exactly 0% of humanity leaves clues to their passwords within shot of their several home cameras.
On occasion, Song will need to speak with persons of interest for various reasons, and this can mean convincing them of her suspicions. Some people are more cooperative than others, but most can be cajoled into telling Song what she needs to know as long as she connects the dots. Sometimes it’s as easy as showing evidence, like a photo or video, but other times she’ll need to pair sentiments together, like reminding someone they hate their boss and working with her would be a way to stick it to them, or that a fellow hacker should hang onto her will to live because a punk band wrote a song about her. Making the right connections certainly yields necessary information, but it’s also known to affect the story down the line, so be sure to consider everything you know before opening your mouth.
I deeply enjoyed both Orwell and Do Not Feed The Monkeys so I had high hopes for Song of Farca, but I didn’t expect to be this impressed. In fact, I might actually like Song of Farca better for the sake of tapping into Song’s personality and life going on in the midst of all this political intrigue. I was charmed by Song’s relationship with others, especially her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s manager, and I loved seeing the real connection between my choices and her life playing out on screen. And with multiple endings to each case, I’m definitely ready to dive back in and play each chapter individually. I’m hooked!
Song of Farca is a top notch surveillance simulator that will simultaneously please players and make them paranoid that someone like Song is watching their every move. With intense cases that require invasive tactics to solve, Song of Farca asks players to make morally ambiguous and legally gray choices that will affect not only Song’s life, but Farca’s future. This was one of the few games I’ve played this year where I was glued to my chair from start to finish, unable to pry myself away from the scintillating story and cleverly addicting gameplay. Song of Farca is an absolute must-play and one that I really can’t recommend enough — just like I recommend keeping your webcams taped over.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Alawar Premium; Developer: Wooden Monkeys; Players: 1; Released: July 21, 2021; MSRP: $19.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a copy of Song of Farca provided by the publisher.