Historical recurrence is an actual thing that people have talked and written about for years. One example of this as its most famous recurrence is the French Emperor Napoleon who decided to invade the Russian Empire in the winter of 1812, something which caused the fall of his reign and the decline of the French Empire. In 1941 Hitler did the same thing with the Nazis – his foolhardy invasion of the Soviet Union caused the decline of the Third Reich.
The Gallery doesn’t deal with war, but it does examine everything else: from philosophy, to portrait art to class struggle. Let us make some choices.
The FMV (Full Motion Video) gaming market is in full-on revival at the moment, proving to be very popular. Paul Raschid is one of the writers/directors who seems to be high in demand for these games and it’s he who has produced one of my favourite experiences so far in The Gallery. It’s a very ambitious tale, one that is fascinating, unique, and very pertinent when discussing the issues of today and yesterday.
At the start of the game, you get a choice – to play as the male protagonist or the female protagonist. One will set the game in 1981 and the other will be set in 2021. The two stories run in parallel but the major difference and variety of routes depend on the choices you make.
The Gallery is set – in both timelines – in a portrait gallery of an old manor, just outside London. The gallery owner in each era is expecting a major addition to their collection the next day. In 1981 it’s the portrait of the Prime Minister whilst in 2021 it i that of a famous Instagram influencer. Both times are places when social disorder has broken down the world; the country feels split, fractured by politics and social beliefs. An artist comes into the gallery, holding the owner hostage as they paint the owner’s portrait through the night and the gallery owner tries to keep alive…
I love the idea and concept of playing this scenario twice but from two different perspectives. But the clever bit is that it’s not only a character swap but a time swap that takes place. The ambition and execution of The Gallery should be applauded as it takes the FMV genre to a new level in terms of artistic skill.
The game itself runs in the usual way, leaving you to make either timed decisions or to consider things as the game pauses, giving time to think about what choice you are making. The decisions make a big difference over the two chapters, with there being sixteen different endings and over 150 variations in scenes to discover. My only critique is that some of these could well be more interesting, helping ensure the choice making gameplay mechanics are more gripping or innovative.
The actual quality of the film and presentation found in The Gallery are all of a very good standard for the type of budget they will be working with. There are some good special effects, and brilliant use of editing and composition. I loved the portraits and choices made in the art department. But also the attention to detail in terms of costumes and props is excellent; brilliantly done thought out.
Further to that, the writing is dynamic and robust with some great character creations and debates with intriguing ideas involving philosophy, art, and politics. The lead performers of Anna Popplewell and George Blagden do a tremendous job across the different eras; they are superbly played and deftly performed in both sections. The rest of the cast also does a brilliant job with special mentions going to Rebecca Root as the art agent and Sarah Paul as the police sergeant.
There’s no doubt about it – The Gallery is a great addition to the FMV family of games; a genre which continues to get bigger. It is an ambitious project that tells two interweaving stories that are clever, absorbing, dynamic, and thoughtful. The different endings are addictive to hunt out, rather than being seen as a chore, and the performances from the various characters are superb. I do wish there could be a bit more in terms of innovation in the gameplay mechanics when making choices, but on the whole, The Gallery is one that delivers an excellent performance.
The Gallery is on the Xbox Store