One of the most comforting and nostalgic feelings for me is reading a good book on a cold night by firelight. The crackling comfort and heat of the burning wood combined with the flickering firelight provides a perfect environment to focus solely on getting lost in a fictional world. That’s exactly the kind of experience developer Wadjet Eye Games has created with Unavowed, except instead of reading a new book you’re pouring through an old classic, finding nuanced details you never noticed the first time.
Unavowed is a point-and-click adventure game set in modern day New York City. You control a nameable player character that, through various spooky circumstances, is recruited to the Unavowed, a secret society of supernatural problem solvers. Along your journey you will recruit other talented individuals to join your ranks and help clean up a series of wild mishaps across the city.
If that sounds rather cliche, it’s because I’m being as intentionally vague as possible. The main draw for this game is the fantastically written and well-paced story which starts with a gripping premise right from the beginning. Watching the trailer for the game will reveal more details, but I found I enjoyed the experience more going in as blind as possible.
This supernatural vision of New York City where the magical is mixed with the mundane is filled with rich world-building, which is revealed through each mission and talking with members of your crew during downtime. It’s so easy for games to cram all their lore into sloppy exposition or collectible info dumps, but Wadjet Eye Games brilliantly balances those details between visuals cues in the environments you explore and dialogue. It’s clear a lot of work was done in the editing room to keep the pacing so tight.
The reliability and depth of the characters and villains in the game was also surprising. It’s hard to find a story-focused game where you don’t hate at least one member of the core cast, but I found all of my fellow supernatural sleuths to be relatable and endearing in one way or another. The only character who fell a bit short for me was Vicki, but her stereotypical “tough cop” routine wasn’t a complete turn-off and even elicits a few laughs.
It’s a good thing the characters are all so likeable, because they really put you through some moral quandaries when it comes to making major story decisions throughout the missions. Make sure to save regularly and often–who you bring with you on missions (you can only bring 2 other members) and the decisions you make can cause drastically different outcomes for both that mission and the game’s ending. Based on the achievements there are several different ending available to unlock.
This forced party limit also helps keeps the point-and-click puzzle solving fresh on repeated sessions, which can last anywhere from 8-10 hours a piece if you always start from scratch. Unavowed is not the adventure game for people who enjoy solving complex puzzles. I was able to solve (or brute force if I was stuck) all of the game’s challenges without a guide or assistance.
Despite the fantastic setting and story, I did encounter some minor issues with the game. Many times during a mission, your party will engage in interesting idle chatter. Because you navigate between static scenes, there were several times where I accidentally cut a great conversation off mid-sentence.
The game also has a ton of backtracking. This is a pitfall of the genre in general, but is still quite tedious when you get stuck. Thankfully your companions will reliably point you in the right direction to hunt for clues without giving away the correct solution.
Unavowed doesn’t break any new ground in video game story telling. And yet, the story it tells is so enjoyable, its characters so memorable and its world so rich in detail that you can’t help wanting to play it again and again like reading your favorite book. Wadjet Eye Games has made a point and click adventure you should not miss.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Gameplay - 8/10
Plot - 10/10
Design - 9/10
Unavowed doesn't break any new ground gameplay-wise, but its excellent writing, music and art make it extremely replayable.