Wadjet Eye games has built a great reputation over the years as publisher/developer of adventure games. Any game they put forward was better than the previous one. And while we hadn’t had a game designed by Dave Gilbert directly since Blackwell Epiphany there was a good reason. That reason was Unavowed. And now that it’s out we’ll see if the wait was worth it.
“Welcome to the Unavowed, my friend”
Unavowed is a graphic adventure, as usual with Wadjet Eye, but it’s not your usual graphic adventure. It has many RPG elements, like a small degree of character creation, companions whose skills will help us advance, or even character classes. It has no combat though, which is an interesting choice, but one that works in the game.
In Unavowed we play as a character whose life has changed drastically. Our character has spent a year possessed by a demon, doing all sort of things around New York. You get saved by the New York branch of the Unavowed, a secret society that fights evil from within the shadows. Since our character can’t go back to their old life they just become the newest member of the Unavowed. And our mission will be to undo whatever it is that demon did when it possessed us. And who knows what that pesky demon might have done over a year, or why.
The references to the character are vague on purpose, because of the previously mentioned character creation. During the start of the game we choose gender, name and their origin story (or class, if you will) between policeman, actor or bartender. Each origin story has a different prologue involving the possession, and also gives different dialogue options you can use to advance. This essentially makes them a silent character, which is a first for Wadjet Eye as well.
“Trust me, your life will never be the same.”
Unavowed was developed on Adventure Game Studio, but it has many things that make it stand out from other games made in that engine, even previous Wadjet Eye games. The interface has been simplified. You don’t have to put up with having to choose different icons when you want to do something. In this case, scrolling the cursor over something makes a description appear on screen, and you just left click to interact. Other than that it plays like a standard point and click, with puzzles and inventory. But there are several choices that you can make that end up shaping how you will get to the end of the game.
Unavowed also pushes to the limit what can be done with AGS. The game is at a 640×360 resolution this time, rather than 320×200. And that shows. Unavowed looks great, and Ben Chandler’s art looks better than ever. The technical part is never that important in an AGS game, but this time it is because of how good the game looks this time.
And the game is long as well. If you take your time and soak it in (and you will, because otherwise you might be dead inside) it might take you around 6 or 7 hours to finish it. But you won’t stop there. You will wonder “What will happen if I bring these other people to the mission” or how different the game is playing with a different origin. You might think you’re done with Unavowed but that’s not true, you will be back. There are many little things that will catch your eye, and different endings too.
“You want to prove yourself to the Unavowed? Now it’s your chance”
The setting is what makes Unavowed. It shares a universe with the Blackwell series, so you’ll see some references you’ll understand if you’ve played the series. And you will also see a couple of familiar faces too. But the most interesting part is getting to know your companions.
Unavowed has been compared to a Bioware game without combat, and that’s a fair comparison. Like in Mass Effect you will find yourself talking to your companions after each mission in order to find out about their lives and whatnot. And there’s also the fact that some of the missions have to do with them directly. And taking different companions to any mission will change how we get to the end of it. For example, in the beginning of the game we will see a ghost, but we’ll be unable to communicate with them for the time being.
And there’s also the banter, at times our companions will chat among themselves. Those conversations might be trivial or might give different details of a character and their feelings about the different parts of New York you visit. It’s always interesting talking to them. And they also act as a hint system of sorts if you forget what you were supposed to be doing.
- Branching and compelling story.
- The companions.
- The setting.
- The different approaches to solving missions
- The game leaves you wanting more.
Unavowed is, to put it bluntly, both Wadjet Eye’s best game and one of the best adventure games made this year. It has been satisfying seeing their growth as a developer and publisher because it has led to this. Here’s hoping that what comes after Unavowed manages to knock it out of the park as much as this game did. Or that at least we get to see a new chapter of the New York branch of the Unavowed at work.