When someone wants an example of a fantastic point and click adventure game, I always end up offering something by Wadjet Eye Games. Since 2006, they have been setting a high standard for what a modern adventure game should be like. Unavowed is Wadjet Eye’s most ambitious project ever and I’m happy to say they’ve been successful in telling their best story yet.
Departing From the Mundane
Unavowed is the story of the New York Branch of the Unavowed, a secret society of magical creatures dedicated to protecting the mundane world. You play as the male or female protagonist after the Unavowed exorcise an evil spirit from your body. There’s just one little problem; the evil spirit used your body to go on a bender of murder and mayhem for an entire year. And you are wanted by the police.
With few options, the protagonist joins up with the Unavowed. Together they set off to find out what the spirit did and why they did it.
What Did I do Last Night?
There’s a hitch to your mission. You don’t remember anything that you did. But you realize, quite quickly, it’s likely murderous or life ruining in nature. In terms of structure, the story is split into days. You wake up at Unavowed HQ where you can talk to your companions, get a location where your spirit is suspected to have crossed through and you’re off to the races.
Part of what surprised me was the sheer number of places you travel to throughout the eight-hour game. You see the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and that’s just scratching the surface. Each location has numerous scenes with great attention to detail. Equally impressive that it’s entirely voice acted. And well to boot!
Sweet, Sweet Character Writing
Along your odyssey you’ll link up with your merry band of magical folks, each with their own way of getting stuff done. By the end you’ll have a super strong jhin, a fire mage, a ghost whisperer, and a cop with a gun. Yeah, one of those is lamer than the others.
But each character is well written and endearing. On each mission, you are given a chance to choose two companions to join you. Based on this, there are different ways you can get through the game’s many logic puzzles. Eli the fire mage can read any piece of writing that’s been burned. The ghost whisperer can talk to ghosts (duh.) Outside of their use in gameplay, each of the characters are well realized. They have character arcs which tie into the main storyline in believable ways.
I have few quibbles with Unavowed as a whole but my biggest one is how the game restricts your party composition. Before you head into a mission, you’re able to pick two companions to come along. Based on that, the way you can interact with your environment changes. There are ghosts all over the city but if you don’t bring along the ghost whisperer, you’ll be unable to talk to them. And that’s that. You can’t switch party members in the middle of the mission.
I can understand that choice overall. The game places a lot of importance on replayability but during your first playthrough, it’s impossible to know what kinds of abilities would be useful in each scenario. It meant, often, that I was in a situation where I desperately wanted to talk to a ghost but there was no way to do it. If you have no time restrictions, this is probably not a huge issue. You can just play the game again. In fact, I recommend it.
The other problem I have is with the game’s controls. It wasn’t terribly often but occasionally there were areas where navigation got a little wonky. There was one segment where I couldn’t move between areas without clicking on something in my inventory, then clicking the pathway. It should have been automatic.
Diversity in Motion
Unavowed is the example of how to handle diversity in games. As I moved around New York, I saw a diverse set of people. Just like in real life. The real world is diverse and always has been. People of all races, genders, and creeds have been around forever so it’s natural for them to show up in games. Furthermore, they found voice actors which mirrored their in-game counterparts. It was emotional watching the credits realizing that all of the characters in the game are based off of real working voice actors. Unavowed sets a standard in how to be diverse and it’s beautiful.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Go play Unavowed. You won’t be sorry. Okay? Okay.