Unrest Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Unrest Review



How interested would you be in a game that has you controlling a poor villager, a princess, and a simple priest? How could a game that delves deep into politics and human sociology be taken as anything but an experimental software with little in the way of actual gaming value? As it turns out, Unrest manages to be both clever and interesting with little effort. Its combination of exploration and dialogue is more than enough to entice every RPG gamer out there, without having to turn towards violence to make the gameplay inviting.

Being an RPG, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to assume Unrest has a heavy focus on core gameplay, as it usually happens with such titles. This couldn’t be further away from the truth, however, as the NPC interaction takes the spotlight here. As I mentioned before, you’ll be taking control over a whole bunch of seemingly random average Joe’s in their own personal quests that won’t be connected at all during the first hour or so. As the storyline goes, the city of Bhmira is in turmoil with its royalty trying to sign a treaty with the Naga people. A deal that isn’t taken too kindly from the people living in the slums, as they’re being rallied by the local religious order against the cold and calculated Naga. The Naga are basically anthropomorphized snakes -true to their name- and the whole thing brings up issues of severe xenophobia. Sometimes from both sides of the coin. I won’t spoil much of the storyline since it develops in a very immersive and realistic manner, but at the very beginning of the game, you’ll gain control over a Naga representative that’s trying to negotiate the terms of the treaty. Seeing things from the other species’ perspective is a real eye opener for the whole experience, and makes you expect things you wouldn’t have expected without playing as a Naga beforehand.

Quite interestingly, every NPC you encounter through the game has a unique opinion of your character (who you’ll be switching quite often, I might add). This reputation system dynamically changes how people react to you and your flow of interaction with them. Take the Naga character, for example. Since most people had only limited contact with the somewhat terrifying species, they will be fearful and respectful of how and what you do. By choosing different dialogue options, you also affect the way storyline goes further down the road. In Unrest, every choice matters and every choice makes you thing thoroughly about what you’re doing. The devs have taken this age-old system to the extreme by removing the ‘game over’ conditions almost entirely. What this means is that even though one of the central characters might die over the course of their chapter, the game will take the sorrowful event into account and continue the story accordingly. Of course, you can load an earlier save, but playing in Iron Man mode makes the experience as a whole much more rewarding.

You will probably also be pleased to hear that there’s some combat in the game, but it’s a much more concrete and deadly effort than it usually is in similar games. These are mostly one-on-one duels that are fast, brutal and unique. However, killing everything in your path is definitely not a good way to play Unrest, as the bloodshed could easily be the tipping point and the reason the city could fall. The whole game is spun around the idea of keeping the city from falling to the dangers that are constantly lurking, but it’s a nuanced, complicated task to complete. Of course, in a good way. Learning how to influence people and learning about the lore behind the game is a very rewarding experience and the thing most will want to focus on.

As far as technicalities go, Unrest is a well made, if a little uninspired game. The graphics aren’t going to impress anyone, and would have greatly benefited from having levels more animated. I’ve also encountered some issues with scaling, as some resolutions like to cut off parts of menus and such. The music is okayish, although not special in any way. It sets a good atmosphere but not much else. Sadly, there’s no voice-over, but that’s to be expected when funds are limited. The thing that annoyed me the most while playing Unrest is character movement. This is slow and overly sluggish, and will often result with the character not getting where you wanted him/her to go. Of course, tank controls aren’t a serious detriment, but can serve as an irritation. The map is also a bit strange, and takes some time to get used to. Once you get a firm grasp on these things, however, there should be no problem in doing what the game wants you to do.

Finally, Unrest is a rich and subtly built game that will make you think about what you’re doing. It does away with the genre’s standard tropes and focuses on character interaction and intelligent problem solving. A really fresh experience that does things quite differently than the rest of what we’ve been getting nowadays. If you want to play something with rich back story, diverse character cast and unexpected but realistic plot twists, Unrest has to be your first choice. A definitive recommendation.