Unavowed

Join a para­nor­mal po­lice force in point-and-click ad­ven­ture Unavowed.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Andy Kelly

If you’ve ever wo­ken up af­ter a wild night out and cringed as a friend re­counted ev­ery em­bar­rass­ing thing you did in ex­cru­ci­at­ing de­tail, you’ll likely res­onate with Unavowed. Ex­cept the main char­ac­ter didn’t drink too many caipir­in­has at happy hour and get thrown out of a club for be­ing sick on the dance­floor; they were pos­sessed by a de­mon who used their body to go on a mur­der­ous ram­page across New York City. Unavowed be­gins as the de­mon is be­ing forcibly ex­tracted from you on a rain-lashed rooftop. In this dra­matic in­tro you de­cide whether you’re a man or a woman and choose from three back­grounds—ac­tor, cop, or bar­tender—each of which has its own ori­gin story and un­locks di­a­logue op­tions later on.

This is one ex­am­ple of how Unavowed sea­sons its fa­mil­iar point-and-click tem­plate with light role­play­ing el­e­ments. I love it, be­cause you rarely get to choose who you play as in these games, and it does take some get­ting used to. Whether it’s Guy­brush Three­p­wood, Ge­orge Sto­b­bart, or Manny Calav­era, graphic ad­ven­tures are of­ten de­fined by strong lead char­ac­ters. Here, the pro­tag­o­nist feels much more like a blank cipher for the player.

Shortly af­ter the ex­or­cism, you join a para­nor­mal po­lice force called the Unavowed. For mil­len­nia it has been pro­tect­ing the ‘mun­danes’ (reg­u­lar peo­ple) from ghosts, demons, mon­sters, and other threats. Work had dried up lately, but your pos­ses­sion sparks a surge of events that gives the Unavowed more work than it has had in decades.

In an­other ex­am­ple of genres col­lid­ing, you can choose which Unavowed mem­bers to take on a mis­sion with you, es­sen­tially form­ing a party. They have con­ver­sa­tions with one an­other and give you hints about what to do next, but more prac­ti­cally, you can use their unique pow­ers to help you solve puz­zles.

At first you don’t re­mem­ber what hap­pened while you were pos­sessed. But as you re­trace your steps and dis­cover clues about your past, the blanks are grad­u­ally filled in. The an­thol­ogy-like struc­ture works well, be­cause you’re never sure what kind of weird­ness each mis­sion will throw at you, but there’s also a larger, well-told story con­nect­ing ev­ery­thing to give it some the­matic con­sis­tency.

Unavowed is also in­cred­i­bly at­mo­spheric. The shad­owy streets of New York pro­vide an evoca­tive back­drop for its ur­ban fan­tasy, and the mar­riage of the ev­ery­day with the su­per­nat­u­ral is class­ily done. The de­tailed art by Wad­jet Eye reg­u­lar Ben Chan­dler is the high­light, with taste­ful, con­sid­ered use of light and shadow mak­ing the city ooze dark mys­tery. Throw in a jazzy, down­beat noir sound­track, and you have a world that’s very easy to get lost in.

Be­tween mis­sions, you can ex­plore the Unavowed’s HQ and have con­ver­sa­tions with your com­pan­ions, which re­minds me a lot of Mass Ef­fect. The char­ac­ters are nu­anced and in­ter­est­ing, and have back­sto­ries that are gen­uinely worth un­cov­er­ing.

BRAIN TEASER

Puz­zles are mostly the usual point-and-click fare, but a bit smarter and less ob­tuse than what I’ve come to ex­pect from the genre. More than once I felt a surge of sat­is­fac­tion for di­vin­ing the so­lu­tion to some­thing that wasn’t im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous, and any ad­ven­ture game that gives me that feel­ing is do­ing some­thing right. Some re­quire slight leaps of logic that ad­ven­ture-trained brains will be used to, but most of the time you just have to be ob­ser­vant, pay­ing at­ten­tion to clues and di­a­logue.

Unavowed is an­other fan­tas­tic ad­ven­ture from Wad­jet Eye, and it’s great to see founder Dave Gil­bert back in the sad­dle. The hu­mor didn’t al­ways land for me, and some of the voice act­ing is iffy at times, but oth­er­wise this is a fine ex­am­ple of a mod­ern point-and-click. The ad­di­tion of char­ac­ter cus­tomiza­tion and com­pan­ions doesn’t sound like much, but it mas­sively changes the feel of the game, even if as­pects, such as the puz­zles, are steeped in the past. The next time you wake up with a sore head, be thank­ful you didn’t leave a trail of death in your wake.

The mar­riage of the ev­ery­day with the su­per­nat­u­ral is class­ily done

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