The game's timer is set to 999 seconds, and, though I might be wrong here, this means that it's long enough to allow the player to process every object in the apartment without running out of time. This also means that the game is dropping hints for us that it isn't actually about finding hidden objects. Nevertheless, you don't know that the first time you play it. Every object in the room has a different progress ticker, and you feel a decent amount of pressure while waiting for the ticker to slowly count off. This waiting screen briefly describes the object you've clicked on and justifies why you'd want to look at said object. You Shall Know The Truth is currently the only Wikileaks Stories game that actually includes information about specific leaks, paraphrasing their content during the verification process of mission-targeted items.
It's a clever way to weave this information into the game, giving you something to read while the progress counter ticks off. One could criticize the game for not making this text permit any other interaction besides cold reading, and it's certainly possible to stare at the progress counter instead of engaging with the content, but we can assume that anyone who might take the time to play a Wikileaks Stories game would care enough to take a look. I'm an impatient gamer, especially when a mission clock is involved, but it worked for me--I learned about a good number of leaks that I hadn't read about in other media sources (and the cable codes are included, making it easy to Google for more information elsewhere).
As you continue toward the designated rendezvous, voiceover that exposes a number of liberal politicians as hypocrites begins to play. The arrows that only a few moments before led directly to relevant locations become fragmented and confused, the rest of the UI flickering on and off. You experience a paranoid breakdown in a turn-based, first-person manner through the manipulation of the interface. This spiral into disarray is effective, but it wavers somewhat at the climax. At the very end, you're faced with a dark screen asking whether what you've heard is "the truth." You've got a choice, yes or no. I chose wrongly, not knowing exactly what I was supposed to be assessing (was it asking me whether what happened in the game was the truth, whether the buffoonish voiceover testimony of the politicians was the truth, or whether the content of the leaks was the truth?), and it kicked me back to the beginning screen.
The second ending I reached can be accessed by leaving the apartment before completing the mission objectives. It's not nearly as developed as the "canon" playthrough of the game, and it seems to be slightly at odds with the way that the game weaves in the content of actual leaks. If we simply leave the apartment for the "good" or righteous ending, then we're never exposed to any of the documents. Perhaps it is simply assumed that few players will attempt this course through the game without first playing through according to the mission. On attempting to exit, we're presented with a series of screens that caution, threaten, or poke fun at our decision. One states that "this is just a game" and that we shouldn't be taking ourselves so seriously, perhaps a nod toward September 12's famous tagline, "this is not a game." Another screen implies that, by abandoning our mission, our families may be in danger of retribution from the government.
Once we finally click through the many warning screens, a labor that ends up becoming more annoying than threatening, we're presented with a baffling quest into nature accompanied by cheesy guitar. To end the game, we've got to click through a number of screen describing how those suspected of treason are treated in the U.S., culminating in the presentation of an inspirational quotable. This segment didn't work for me, perhaps because I didn't personally feel scared enough by the text screens or the rest of the game to feel any relief while walking through the forest and into flower-filled fields. In contrast, I can remember the palpable sense of danger (perhaps in the form of enemy attacks or diminished resources) when double-crossing one of the two mission-giving organizations in Deus Ex: Invisible War. But in a short webgame such as this I've got no personal investment in my player-character, nothing to lose but a few minutes of clicking.
This incorporation of declassified information is a simple, lovely touch, but the very fact that this was information released in accordance with a highly detailed (and constantly modified) piece of actual legislation clashes with the singular, hasty manner in which the Wikileaks cables were themselves disseminated. That said, there may be a tacit argument here against the Obama administration's own modification of the FOIA. Their 2009 executive order 13526 permits the government to retroactively declare information as relevant or sensitive to national security. This means that a document can be withheld on a case-by-case basis even after it has legally passed into the mandated time period for availability and has been explicitly requested by a citizen, with minimal and opaque justification.
There are a lot of little things to love about You Shall Know The Truth, like the fact that you turn right out of the apartment when you complete the mission and left when you've chosen to ignore it--it isn't every day that we see a metaphor embedded into a binary choose-your-own-adventure. Those little shortcomings that I've already addressed aside, the game's primary ambivalence stems from the underdevelopment of its endings. The experience of its play, especially on one's first try, is heady, educational, and unsettling. Yet in its quest to explicitly endorse one ending as "responsible" or good, the game hurries a player-character we haven't quite come to feel empathy or understanding for to an unsatisfying and preachy conclusion. But maybe that's to be expected from a game that curiously borrows its title from John and demands the ultimate text-based sacrifice from its player-character. Is this the truth?