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Xbox One / Xbox Series X/S Game Review

The Gallery


Format: Xbox One / Xbox Series X/S
Publisher: Aviary Studios
Developer: Aviary Studios
RRP: £11.99
Click here to buy from Xbox Marketplace
Age Restrictions: 16+
Release Date: 15 September 2022

An art curator is held hostage by a portraitist who threatens to detonate a bomb unless their demands are met. The Gallery contains two interactive narratives - set in 1981 (with a female protagonist) and 2021 (with a male protagonist). Both eras are significant periods of sociopolitical unrest in Britain and there are distinct similarities and differences across the two stories. The viewer must make decisions in a bid to better understand and escape their captor. However, it soon becomes apparent that not only the life of the protagonist hinges on these decisions, but also the lives of others...


Morgan is held hostage by Dorian (1981)

There aren't enough live action interactive movie games out there. In recent years we've reviewed The Complex and Dark Nights with Poe and Munro. Both of which are excellent examples of production companies nailing it on all fronts. The Gallery, I'm happy to report, is another one that really understands the mechanics of the genre and has fun delivering the story.

When you start the game you're given two options. You can play as a female protagonist in a story set in 1981. Or, you can play as a male protagonist in a plot that unravels in 2021. Having grown up in the '80s I was keen to see how the developers (most I'm assuming weren't even born in that time period) handled it. To be fair, aside from ridiculously big hair wigs and oversized glasses there's not a whole lot here to bring forth memories of the '80s. It's more in illustrating how communication wasn't as easy as it is now, with a plug in landline being your only connection to the outside world.

As you're introduced to the characters it isn't long before you start to realise that the acting is pretty good. This is one of the key elements ensuring this type of game works. If the acting is hammy, then you don't care for the characters and therefore don't care for the game. Anna Popplewell and George Blagden inhabit their characters wonderfully. The production is bold too in that there are a lot of long, lingering shots. This makes it harder to hide any below par acting.


Outside character can be drawn into the story

As the game moves forwards Morgan (Popplewell), the organiser of a portrait exhibition, is held hostage by Dorian (Blagden) on the night before a new portrait of the Prime Minister by a renowned artist, is due to go on display. Dorian hopes that stealing/destroying the portrait will cause great interest in the media, kick-starting civil unrest at a time when the British population just need to be nudged into action.

The narrative is broken up with choices that will move the story in another direction. Some appear to have absolutely no impact on the main story, whilst others will greatly change the outcome of events. Along the way your relationship with Dorian changes. So you can make decisions on whether you want to try to please him (or you may actually agree with him) or wind him up. The choice is yours. There are several endings to the story and many other outcomes that you'll effect as you go along.

Once the game is finished you'll be shown what paths you went down and how many outcomes you discovered. According to the developers there are 150 decision paths and 18 unique endings.


Morgan is held hostage by Dorian (2021)

Back to the main menu and onto the 2021 storyline. At first, very briefly, I was disappointed to see that it appeared to be pretty much the same storyline but with a male actor playing the role of Morgan and a female actor playing as Dorian. Again the fact it was 2021 was pretty much irrelevant (as Morgan's mobile phone is taken off him almost immediately). I was so caught up in the story that it was only when Dorian arrived that I thought: "Wait! Isn't that Popplewell who played Morgan in the '80s segment?" And then I suddenly realised that Blagden was back, but this time playing Morgan. That's how much of a character shift his acting is; that I really didn't spot it. In fact (with two exceptions - that of the artist and the man with the megaphone) all of the character's sexes are reversed. In the case of the artist the decision not to change sex is a wonderfully subtle nod (without it being heavily signposted) of transgender issues.


Femi, one of the "optional" characters you may encounter

The plot is pretty much the same, but it's interesting to see how different both actors approach their roles. There are other side stories and plot points and after completing them both I couldn't help thinking that the 2021 storyline appeared to have less options... But that could have been down to the choices I opted for.

There's also the option to either play with "Timed Choices" for a more immersive, pressured experience or "Paused Choices for group play. If you opt for Timed Choices and don't make a decision in time the game chooses for you.

It's a fun, immersive experience which you'll be thinking about long after you've finished playing. I know I'll be returning to it in the future to see what narrative other choices will unlock.


Darren Rea

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£15 Xbox Live Credits