Developed by a team in Prague, and based on oral histories collected from the area, Attentat 1942 is a World War II game played through the eyes of the survivors. Acting as a young person trying to solve a family mystery, the player meets with eyewitnesses to the Nazi occupation in Czechoslovakia, relives their memories, and unravels family secrets through interactive comics, authentic footage, and personal interviews. The game was awarded the Best Learning Game at the Games for Change Festival, and costs $10.99.
There are many World War II games and educational resources out there, but what makes Attentat 1942 unique and impressive is how thoroughly it explores a specific historical context. The game designers worked with Czech schools to ensure Attentat 1942 aligned with history curriculum, and every time important events, people, or terms are mentioned, an encyclopedia entry pops up in the corner of the screen, allowing you to learn more. These entries are often specific to the Czechoslovakian Nazi occupation, but the characters also discuss the impact of more generalized events on their experience. The game covers a lot of ground for only technically giving the player a single mission.
Attentat 1942 is compelling not only because the player is thrown into intense, life-or-death stories, but because of the way it switches back and forth between live-action interviews and a sort of graphic novel-style animation. In between the storytelling, the player completes tasks like deciphering codes, judging the timeliness and safety of escape routes, and determining which items are safe to keep versus those that might get you arrested.
Coins earned from those games come in handy if your interview skills aren’t so good. I really appreciated the fact that players have to choose what questions to ask the characters they interview, and are rewarded for finding the right balance of empathy with pushiness. You have to read a character and determine how best to win their trust to get the answers you need, reminding the player that this isn’t just a game you can speed through; learning about WWII requires sensitivity and reflection.
Though I liked the people-skills taught in the interview segments, sometimes it felt like choosing the right question to ask was just pure luck, which was frustrating. Perhaps more consistency in the types of questions that yielded good results would be helpful.
The game felt extremely thorough until it came to a very abrupt end. Perhaps there are multiple endings, but the way my story’s mystery was solved left me feeling cheated. I had questions I still wanted to ask, and the fact that one character had been presumably unconscious throughout the entire game until the end, inconveniently available for questioning, felt like a cop-out.
Overall, I was impressed with Attentat 1942. It has clear educational value, it’s engaging, and the hours of gameplay, aesthetics, and historical content definitely made it worth the money.Image: by Attentat 1942