Booth: A Dystopian Adventure showcases a future where food is highly sought after and monitored. Causing all types of chaos is easy, but is keeping the peace worthwhile?
- Developer: Guanpeng Chen
- Publisher: Guanpeng Chen
- Release Date: 22nd July 2020
- Genre: Adventure, Indie, Simulation
- Platforms: Windows PC (Steam)
- Reviewed on: Windows PC
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
As soon as Booth: A Dystopian Adventure was teased with its 8-bit graphic style and uncanny resemblance to “Papers, Please”, I immediately fell in love with the style. As an indie 8-bit lover, the story and style jumped out and I wanted to play this game. When “Papers, Please” was released I loved it as much as everyone else; it’s dystopian future setting and ongoing puzzles kept my interest right until the end. Not many other games before or since have been able to replicate the intrigue that “Papers, Please” has, until now.
It is clear for anyone to see that Booth: A Dystopian Future is heavily influenced by “Papers, Please”. Set in the future, with a dystopian setting, checking everything that passes through your booth. There is also a clear link between the main characters actions and the political overarching story-line alongside its multiple endings; it reflects “Papers, Please” quite obviously. However, with Booth: A Dystopian Future, you are hired as a food inspector and instead of your booth sitting comfortably on solid ground, you are suspended 3000 feet above sea level – cosy! It is your job to inspect each food item that passes under your nose and make sure that only the best produce reaches the city centre.
The game-play takes different forms, the main story-line is point and click based when roaming about your booth. Before and after your working day you are visited by various people with different dialogues which is a great way of breaking up the monotony of the day job (night shift). When sitting at your booth you’re greeted with a conveyor belt that brings food in front of you and doesn’t stop until your shift is over. You need to click and drag each food item to the various testing equipment in front of the conveyor belt and only put it back on the conveyor belt if it meets all the criteria.
It really does create a sense of drama when checking the food items as the conveyor belt never stops moving. The food items only stop when you take them off the conveyor belt to test them for anomalies. Food items that don’t meet the exacting criteria of the “food overlords” are discarded through a trash chute. The anomalies are randomised so you can get a day where you only throw away one item and you can get another day when a whole pig decides to appear, and you are not mentally prepared for it! The urge to get through a whole day with no errors is too real! I thought I played games to escape from everyday life, not to be back at the grind!
In terms of story-line there’s a clear dystopian future feel about it all. You are hired as a food inspector by the government to make sure that the food that passes through you is meeting the exacting criteria they set out. There’s no back story as to why there are food shortages, but it becomes clear as you play through the game that there’s something a lot more sinister going on behind the scenes. It seems that the higher ups are given priority when it comes to fresh fruit and better food, whereas those lower down the “food chain” (pun intended) are given the joy of eating what looks like chunks of mismatched veggies super-glued together. There is an underlying story where the main character wants to get out of the city that they are living in. As this game has more than one ending, I won’t ruin any more of it for you. You’re just going to have to play it for yourself!
The game-play is linked quite clearly to the story-line. In a call back to “Papers, Please”, how well you do in your day job allows you to be able to order food for yourself and possibly progress the main characters story-line to one of the multiple endings. It allows you to play through this real David and Goliath story of one man against the system. However, it is your call whether you choose to take on the role of anarchist or whether you decide to be a dutiful government employee.
Booth: A Dystopian Future is a great game if you love 8-bit games with a deep and intricate story-line. The clear references to “Papers, Please” are sometimes a little too obvious to ignore but luckily I loved that game, so playing a game inspired by it wasn’t too laborious. The best thing about this game was the story-line by far, the conversations between the NPCs and the main character built an in-depth plot that I couldn’t stop until I’d found one of the endings.