Unwording
Gameplay 5
Graphics 7
Sound 7

Unwording sees players help a lonely man named Tom to overcome the negative self-talk that is holding him back in life. This is done over the course of three days as Tom begins to see the world from a new perspective. The game starts out strong with some interesting puzzles on day one. Unfortunately, while the shift from 2.5D and finally full 3D over subsequent days looks good, the puzzles are less fun. Unwording is also a very brief experience that will leave most players wanting more.

Gameplay: Players must use three types of word puzzles to guide Tom from his apartment to work and back every day. These puzzles start fun but are less engaging on the second and third days.

Graphics: The first day in Unwording features stylish 2D visuals, which then turn into 2.5D and 3D on subsequent days.

Sound: The game lacks dialog, but the soundtrack by Trevor Kowalksi sets the mood of the game perfectly

Summary 6.3 Above Average
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Unwording

Developer: Frostwood Interactive | Publisher: Frostwood Interactive, Dino Digital | Release Date: 2023 | Genre: Puzzle / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Everyone can have negative thoughts sometimes, but if it becomes too frequent the results are never good. This is the fate of Tom, the protagonist of Unwording, who finds himself lonely, stressed, and depressed thanks to his negative thought patterns. Tom lives alone in his apartment, where he takes a daily bus to work. Due to all the negative self-talk, Tom doesn’t socialize with his co-workers and returns home every day with no energy to cook or clean. This is the state that players find Tom in as they join him in his journey to overcoming the self-doubt that is clouding his life.

As the name suggests, words play an important role in this game and day one begins with players seeing Tom’s world from his glass half-empty lens. This first day is viewed from a 2D perspective where Tom and his surroundings are depicted as simple chalk drawings on pastel backgrounds. All the puzzles on this day take the form of neutral phrases that players must manipulate into negative ones. For example, the phrase “wake up” is shown and players must turn it into “give up” by rotating the blocks on which the letters are depicted. The purpose of these puzzles is to spell out messages that are irrational and self-defeating in order to remind Tom of everything he lacks.

After this bleak start to the game, things begin to change on day two when a mischievous little yellow bird enters Tom’s apartment and his life. This bird literally causes Tom to see the world from a different perspective as the visuals change from 2D to 2.5D. The bird also smashes into the previously negative phrases put together on day one and scatters them into a jumble of 3D blocks. These blocks must then be rotated by players in 3D to create new words which they then string together to create positive phrases. Unfortunately, the puzzles on day two are a little fiddly and not quite as engaging as the ones on day one.

Finally, on the third day, the perspective switches to full 3D while the puzzles make way for a text input box where players can type a command for Tom to perform. Once again, this is a little fiddly and it took us a few attempts to get Tom to do what we wanted him to do even after figuring out what must be done. It is a very short experience and the last two days are not quite as good as the first, but overall Unwording offers a unique perspective on what a big impact negative self-talk can have.

Unwording is a decent-looking game, and seeing Tom’s world become more colorful and three-dimensional is a clever touch. Unfortunately, the added dimensions can cause some issues, especially on day two when players don’t have control of the camera. Tom has a bad habit of getting caught on things in the foreground or background as players try to steer him around, which quickly becomes annoying. The game also has a very limited number of locations which consists of Tom’s apartment, the street in front of the apartment, and his office floor. The audio is really good, and while the game does not feature any speech or indeed dialog, the soundtrack by Trevor Kowalski sets the mood perfectly. Tom can be moved around using a keyboard and mouse or controller, but as mentioned earlier, navigation can be a chore in the 2.5D perspective.

Overall, Unwording has an important message and some interesting ideas, but with only three types of puzzles and three different locations, it’s all over very quickly. The game can be completed in under two hours, and since it only covers three days in Tom’s life, there’s not much room for character development either. We enjoyed the puzzles on day one, but the ones that followed on subsequent days were unfortunately not as fun. Unwording also allows players to choose “Easy” mode if they are more interested in the story and not so much the challenges, but this makes for an even shorter experience. In addition, even with the inclusion of some visual and audio clues for the puzzles, some players might find that completing them is more about trial and error than any real skill. There’s no doubt that Unwording is a charming game and features some good ideas, but in the end, the execution could have been better.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: 1.8GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000 series
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: 2.4 GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce 780
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Processor: 1.8GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000 series
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Processor: 2.4GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Radeon R9 M370X
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Processor: 1.8GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Storage: 1 GB available space

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