If you follow Hyper Light Up for some time, you definitely came across our reviews for Wadjet Eye Games’ creations and published works. We always jump in when we hear these guys make something new because we are huge fans of the genre and Wadjet Eye Games always delivers great point and click adventures. Let’s jump into Unavowed, a game about exorcisms, supernatural entities and ex accountants turned fire mages.
Unavowed begins on the roofs of New York city a stormy night where, as we immediately see, two shadowy figures try to exorcise a spirit from a person. That person of course is you. During the exorcism you get to pick your sex and your previous occupation. From the first moments of the story, Unavowed gives us choices that affect how the game progresses. The choice of your occupation affects the origins of your character and how you came to be possessed one year ago. It also affects some dialogue choices that you have during the story, but more on that later.
As the exorcism reaches the end and you begin to remember, you learn from the two figures who introduced themselves as Eli and Mandana that this last year this spirit that possessed you went on a killing spree and threatened the balance between the mundane and spirit world. They introduce the secret group they belong, the Unavowed and their goal to protect our world from supernatural and malicious entities. They explain that their numbers dwindled these past years because things were calm, but after your possession everything started to change. You need some answers about your past so you agree to help them.
Unavowed is a pure point and click adventure that also does some pretty interesting things for the genre. This group you now are a part of has only four members but during the story you will be able to recruit two more. While you visit the areas that show increased spiritual activity, you will have the choice of companions, up to two. Their presence affects dialogues, events, puzzles and makes the game immediately replayable. There will be things that you can do with a character but completely miss with another, so choice does matter. You will want to mix things up on your playthroughs (yes, many) if you want to see all of the game has to offer.
The choice of characters is not the only thing that affects the game. Your person has dialogue options depending on their background. For example, if you choose to be a cop, other cops will talk to you more openly about things and events. If you want to be an actor, then you can deceive others more easily. Again, these options help with replayability and the fact is that some dialogues change significantly that definitely deserve to be explored. In my second playthrough I loved playing my actress as a “not giving a damn” character. Her dialogue was very enjoyable.
In Unavowed you visit some New York areas that show increased supernatural activity and when you finish each area you will face the otherworldly entity that pretty much messed things up. The way you act and the choices you are faced with will stop you on your tracks and make you rethink stuff. “This is an adventure game, what I choose now doesn’t matter… does it?”. Well yes, it does. It feels fresh when a game makes it hard for you to make a choice and when down the road you see how that choice affected your story, even though slightly (remember, this is a game written by one person, don’t expect threads over threads over even more threads). Nonetheless, This addition is more than welcome and is something future point and click developers should definitely think about of implementing in their games. It can be done, and it can be done perfectly fine.
As far as gameplay goes, you can do everything with your mouse, so sit back and enjoy. I should note that there’s no “look” option by right clicking, the game has you covered by showing text about what you look at by hovering over the items etc. Nice quality of life addition.
The artwork is also quality work, with detailed backgrounds and low quality characters that immediately feel like they came from the ‘90s. The portraits are also detailed with different facial expressions depending on the situation and dialogue. The music follows the story with orchestral themes denoting important and sinister elements while in other parts subtle melodies play that give weight to the dialogue and the characters. The music is not that memorable but It is a very functional soundtrack and that’s what matters here. So is the voice over, with spoken dialogue for every character except the player (insert winking face emoji here) and with the actors doing good work.
If you are a seasoned point and click adventure player you will have no problem with the puzzles of Unavowed. For the most part of the game everything is pretty much straight forward with logical solutions, easy to find items and puzzles that focus on dialogue. There are a couple of very smart puzzles near the middle of the game and one that requires you to think outside the box or you risk being quite angry. This was definitely my least favorite puzzle, it felt like the puzzles my teacher in elementary school asked us to solve (which weighs most, a kilo of cotton or a kilo of iron?) and actually I solved it because I remembered a picture that was hanging above the blackboard in school, that actually gave me the answer to the legs puzzle.
Even if you are new to this genre, Unavowed is a perfect gateway to adventures, as most of the Wadjet Eye games. They are easy to pick up, easy to solve, with interesting stories and immersive worlds to make you want to see the end.
And here is where I have a personal problem with Unavowed. See, Wadjet Eye Games has spoiled me with their past releases, both games they made and they published. I mentioned on my Technobabylon review that the most important elements of adventures are the story, the characters and the puzzles, and that I personally pay more attention to the first two. I have been thinking about that and the game these couple of weeks and I can say that neither the story or the characters challenge me. To note, the story and the characters are perfectly fine and work as they should to create a whole experience, the thing is that they didn’t catch my attention or interest as I was expecting.
I thought if it was the setting that bothered me, but The Blackwell series is also set in our contemporary world and I loved that game, so that wasn’t it. As I thought about it I started making comparisons between the games. The Blackwell series had a very likeable pair, Rosa and Joey, with a more intimate connection and the focus was on their relationship, making them more fleshed out. Unavowed has a cast of characters, three most of the times and unfortunately not all of them are fleshed out or interesting. Vicki for example is a cop that comes from a big family, all cops. If you’ve seen enough cop movies from the ’80s and ’90s you know exactly what to expect from her character. It is something we’ve seen a lot and it’s being done to death already.
Mandana and Eli are more fleshed out, with the one being a half Djinn, half human that can’t lie and the other being an ex accountant that became a fire mage. Their backgrounds are very interesting but aren’t as explored as I would like. As far as characters go, Kay Kay is my favorite and that’s because she’s interesting from the moment we meet her. Her actions and who she is makes her memorable, way after the end of the game.
The story is the second thing that didn’t hit home with me and I didn’t feel immersed in it as in Shardlight and Technobabylon. Those two games got their hooks on me from the first moments. With Unavowed I was moving through the story but I never felt part of it. There was a very nice twist at 3/4ths of the game that made me stand and pay attention to what is happening, a very welcome feeling I should say.
The fact that I didn’t felt for the story though is something totally personal, I have experienced something similar in art/movies/literature in the past so I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, instead you should disagree, we all have different experiences in life.
The conclusion I reached though and the thing that was swirling in my mind and bothered me was that in the end, the game didn’t give me something to contemplate. Shardlight had the Ravens and their philosophy of life (or Death, if you like), plus questions about how much things really change in our world after the bombs fall. Technobabylon had you thinking about how technology affects us today and if we had the chance, would we leave “meatspace” for a digital utopia?
And that is the thing I discovered: I like games to challenge me, not only gameplay wise, but mostly mentally. Especially from story driven games like adventures.
All this shouldn’t affect your judgement though, since Unavowed is a very well made game in all respects, adding some very welcome gameplay elements that other adventures should integrate more often. As a game though, it doesn’t go beyond what’s expected, especially from a developer like Wadjet Eye Games. I decided that my previous thoughts will not affect the final score of the game, since they’re totally personal. If you feel that my words speak for you too, then take half a point off the final score.
You can find Unavowed on Steam for the price of 14,99€.
Unavowed is another strong point and click adventure that increases the positive track record of Wadjet Eye Games. With a nice story that will resonate with many, a team of characters that, even though not entirely fleshed out, definitely feel part of this world and some very welcome gameplay and choice matters additions that many more developers should explore, this is a worthy experience for entry level and seasoned adventurers alike. If you are a Wadjet Eye Games fan, you already have this game, I am sure of that.
+Choices matter, even though mostly slightly
+Team of characters to choose that affect puzzles and dialogues
+Detailed art that at the same time feels retro
+Definitely replayable, it is suggested you do play it at least twice
–Number of characters leaves some of them underdeveloped
–The game doesn’t go beyond expectations
Score : 8/10
~Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas