Unrest
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 7

If you value interesting dialogue and moral choices more than loot gathering and monster slaying then you will enjoy Unrest. The game dares to do things a bit differently and for the most it works quite well. The lack of puzzles or any real combat means that the pace of the game is very slow, but just like a good book you will want to know what is going to happen next once you are hooked.

Gameplay: The focus is very much on the story, so action junkies might become bored of all the reading.

Graphics: The hand-painted visuals give the game an unique look.

Sound: Outstanding tunes, but no speech

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Unrest

Developer: Pyrodactyl  | Publisher: KISS ltd. |Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Adventure / Indie / RPG | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

After being cast in the role of a hero and savior so many times in traditional role playing games, stepping into the world of Unrest can be a bit jarring. The game might be set in a fantasy version of ancient India, but you won’t find any gods bestowing your hero with special powers or quests to save the world. Instead, you take control of five characters who are mostly just trying to survive in a world that is pretty indifferent to their suffering. They all have very different backgrounds and motivations, but in a typical role playing game they would be the type of characters you pass in the street without a second glance or at best exchange one line of dialogue with on your way to do something heroic.

Since none of the characters you control have much experience in combat, apart from the mercenary captain, the narrative takes the center stage. Playing as a peasant girl being forced into an arranged marriage is quite a different experience when you are not the hero that swoops in and rescues her from her plight by killing everyone in sight. By removing violence as the solution to everything the game forces you to approach everything from a new perspective and put a bit more thought into how you interact with others. The cocky “I’m ten levels higher than you and carrying a magical sword” attitude isn’t going to do you much good when you are playing as a slum dweller surviving on bread scraps for example.

Since the game is very story driven you can expect to do plenty of reading and prepare yourself for some tough choices. The entire game is set in or around the city-state of Bhimra which just happens to find itself stricken with famine and dealing with some very unhappy people in the slums. To add to the chaos there is also a reptilian race, called the Naga, living in the slums, much to the fear and loathing of the humans. The Naga comes from a very militant nation that the upper-class humans only tolerate because of the lucrative trade arrangements, but neither side is particularly happy with each other. Unrest is definitely brewing and your actions can either calm things down a bit or make it much worse.

Conversing with people in the game reveals extensive dialogue options and you can see exactly how much someone likes, fears or respects you for what you have said. If you are used to games where the “right” or “wrong” choices are usually marked clear as day, you will find no such luxuries in Unrest. There were times where I thought I was doing the right thing and it ended up making things much worse while other times I had to swallow my pride and agree to things that I didn’t believe in just to survive or protect someone. I’m being intentionally vague because I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but suffice to say that even a simple act such as selecting who to give food or medicine to when playing as a priest will have you second guessing your decisions. Choices from one chapter can influence the next and you can even cause main characters to die, which instead of a game over screen just cause the event to become part of the story. If the temptation to reload a previous save game is too tempting you can always play in “Iron Man” mode which restricts you to auto-saves only.

While the story and dialogue of the game are highlights, I can’t say that the hand painted visuals really drew me in. The action is viewed from an overhead perspective, similar to the early Ultima role playing games, but each chapter only features a few screens to explore and the gameworld feels very static. There is very little in the environment to interact with and other characters just stand around almost motionless as they wait for you to talk to them. Animations are a bit stiff and apart from the main character about the only things I saw moving around in the gameworld were birds. The game might have soared past its initial Kickstarter goal, but it was still made with a shoestring budget in comparison to other role playing games and sadly it is very evident in the visuals. Some players will appreciate the painted visuals, but to me it gave the game a bit of a children’s storybook feel which is at odds with the rather serious themes that are explored.

On the other hand, I was very impressed with the audio and the soundtrack contains some really impressive tunes. The soundtrack captures the essence of the Indian location in a way that the visuals don’t and definitely enhances the whole experience. By contrast, the sound effects are sparse or non-existent as I can’t recall a single occasion where I heard anything that stood out. The game doesn’t feature any voice acting either, but considering the amount of dialogue there is to read this is quite understandable. The game can be played using a keyboard, mouse or controller, but I found the mouse option to be the most comfortable.

Unrest is certainly a very ambitious title, but don’t expect a traditional role playing experience. The game has more in common with a visual novel than anything else, which is not a bad thing as long as you know what you are getting for your money. Fortunately, there is a DEMO available so you can check it out for yourself. The get the most from Unrest you are going to have to immerse yourself in the story and be willing to experience things from a different angle than what you might be used to. The game is quite short and even when taking your time to explore will clock in at about three to four hours. With the amount of characters and choices, multiple playthroughs are definitely recommended, although I was a bit disappointed to find that the story was not as radically changed by my choices as I had hoped it would be.

While Unrest falls somewhat short of greatness it is clear to see that a lot of work went into it that there is a lot of potential for future titles in the gameworld that Pyrodactyl has created. I did notice an option for mod support on the main menu of the game, so the ability to create and share your own adventures might be a big draw in the future if implemented properly. I enjoyed my time with Unrest and look forward to seeing what else Pyrodactyl has planned as they are clearly a studio that is not afraid to do things a little differently.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2 or newer
  • Processor: 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD equivalent
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 9 compatible graphics card with 1 GB memory
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Monitor resolution of 1280×720 or greater recommended
  • OS: Windows XP SP2 or newer
  • Processor: 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD equivalent
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 9 compatible graphics card with 1 GB memory
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Monitor resolution of 1280×720 or greater recommended

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