The Snowden case is remembered as the biggest leak in the US history. Whistleblower? Hero? Traitor? In TOP SECRET, you take the helm of the story – now see if you made the right call.

TOP SECRET is an upcoming indie game about privacy, ethics, encryption and yes, everyone’s secrets. As a new recruit in the NSA, you gather the intel, choose a target, and a name, email or phone number is all your team needs to become their shadow.

The Giant Safeb- NSA HQ.
The Giant Safeb- NSA HQ.

Someone has been leaking the government secrets to the press, and your mission is to find him and let your “friends” take care of him (or them?). But remember, you aren’t the only one choosing targets… and no one is out of suspicion.

Will you keep your oath once the big eyes fix their gaze at your friends and family?

TOP SECRET is about immersing yourself in your role, not winning a game.

TOP SECRET its an experiment in interactive fiction: you play by writing emails, as in, you receive real-time emails from (in-game) NSA agents in your real inbox and respond them how you would a friend’s message. You get these on various days during 2 weeks, and as expected of a NSA agent, your decisions carry huge responsibility, so no one is rushing things – take your time and ponder in the possibilities.


Play the game by writing real emails.


Emails can tell you way more than what they say. The timing of the emails is as important as the content, for it speaks about the person sending them to you – did they reply too fast? Or took too much time? Maybe they were busy, or they could be hiding something? Pay attention to this and the phrasing of the messages; the leaker is in your ranks, and sabotage can have you running circles.

The game is narrative driven and your choices make all the difference in its non-linear story – decisions you make can affect your progress down the road, and sometimes making the “right” call won’t be apparent (or feel like it) until much later. Don’t worry, though; the game isn’t about being “creative” with what to write as in thinking thoroughly and choosing what you feel it’s the best option.

At its core, it plays the same as those old role-playing games that used to be popular on chat rooms. This time, however…

The story is no tale.

As member of the real NSA, you’ll investigate and keep track the journalists that helped Snowden, and you decrypt and study real messages sent by Snowden during the leaking back in 2013.

The game is compatible with the real PGP tool – the one Snowden himself used to cover information during the original leaks. Not only can you encrypt your messages for good measure (there ARE people tracking you down, too), but decrypting third-party data can be crucial to uncover the truth.

Real-time, Real-life encryption with PGP.
Real-time, Real-life encryption with PGP.

Rather than rewriting history, the goal of UK developer James Long for TOP SECRET its for you to explore the fundamentally complex issues raised by Snowden, like the ethics behind mass surveillance, government secrecy and the conflict between national security vs personal privacy.

Agents must be up anytime, from anywhere.

Since it’s an email-based game, you can play it on any device you can access your inbox, no installations needed. There will be an offline digital version for Windows, Mac OS and Linux that uses a fake inbox if for some reason you don’t want or can’t use your real one.

You can test the game right now with the demo, and remember, it’s quite demanding. The Kickstarter ends Oct. 23th, and for £5 you get both the offline copy and the real-time pass.

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