Mr. Robot, the hit American piracy thriller, features a mobile game. It’s a paranoid nightmare sight from my own cell phone, and I can’t look away.
Developed by Night School Studio, the creators of the famous Without beef, in conjunction with Telltale Games and the Mr. Robot team, this new iOS and Android game bears the unwieldy title Mr. Robot: 1.51exfiltrati0n.apk. It starts with the premise that you’ve found a phone. You check it out, start the messaging app of the fictitious conglomerate E Corp which holds untold power in this world, and find someone texting you. You, precisely. It’s urgent. There is a file on this phone, and they need it.
From there you are trapped in the orbit of the collective “fsociety” of hackers, a reality of personal and technological exploits, a reality of revolution and fear. Unlike most related games of the mobile variety, Mr. Robot‘s understands exactly what makes the show so good.
The TV show plays a stubborn and at times infuriating game: it’s disguised as a high-tech thriller, but it’s also a psychological drama, interested in how people deal with the trauma of modern society and how they get along. break under the pressure of the world around them. .
He often refuses to indulge in pirating melodrama, resisting the easy format of a heist, outside of special occasions. Instead, he’s slow and thoughtful, trapped in his own character’s head as often as not. It’s a show about introverted and troubled protagonist Elliot and the people around him. They are struggling under the yoke of capitalism; they unravel, they continue. Mr. Robot reviews their struggles with a microscope.
The excellence of Night School Studio’s bond is its dedication to a similar end. Written in close collaboration with series director Sam Esmail, it revels in anxiety and the mundane. You text Elliot’s sister Darlene and she tries to get you to trust her, while vulgar ads and a heinous chat group pings you over and over. It’s a game for talking to people, a copycat texting app with a window into those fictional lives. Evening school Without beef has been praised for their fantastic writing and character development, and that trend continues here as they bring an eye to character and tone that is almost as precise as that of Esmail.
While the game ostensibly fills in the plot gaps of the show’s mid-first season, you spend most of the playtime not knowing what’s going on. By masking the high levels of the plot, it instead emphasizes the moment-to-moment interactions. Every task and line of dialogue takes on great importance — each could be a clue to what exactly is going on. By the time Darlene has you doing some grunt work for the revolution in the form of social engineering, you’ve been prepared to see the world more like a hacker.
In the series, Elliot always emphasizes that people are like computer programs: systems, with exploitable flaws and predictable modes of operation. Mr. Robot: 1.51exfiltrati0n.apk gives you a way to dive deeper into some of these systems, giving you access to its most important and complex characters. You can learn them like Elliot would, if only for a little while. And with fsociety hackers around your neck, you better learn fast.