Unavowed is a point and click mystery adventure by Wadjet Eye Games with a supernatural twist.
As someone who hasn’t played a traditional point and click adventure game since the Humongous Entertainment titles of the late nineties, Unavowed caught my eye when I first previewed it at GDC 2018 due to its modern setting, character variety, supernatural world, and more mature subject matter. Unavowed takes place in modern day perpetually rainy New York City, where one year prior to the current events, your character was possessed by a demon, causing you to hurt or kill a handful of people. You are then saved by the Unavowed, an ancient secret society which dedicates itself to stopping evil supernatural forces from harming the mundane — the term for those unaware of the supernatural — world.
Unavowed starts with a man, later known to be Eli Beckett the fire mage, interrogating your character asking if you’re a man, women or demon. He then asks you your occupation, which will determine your origin story and ability. The three occupations are police officer, bartender, and actor, and each have different yet similar skills which will help you investigate different areas as well as other characters. Police officers have more authority with their questions and demands, bartenders can get other characters to open up more, and actors are better liars. For my playthrough I chose to be a bartender because it seemed like the best and easiest way to obtain more information.
In addition to your player character, later on you can select two of four other characters to help you before starting most missions, visualized by taking the subway to your next destination. These characters have various skills ranging from being familiar with more characters, being knowledgeable about supernatural occurrences, climbing, fire magic, and even communicating with ghosts. On some missions there are a variety of solutions for certain puzzles, while with others the necessary character will be automatically switched out with one of the current party members.
Puzzles are quite varied in Unavowed, with some being more straightforward and others requiring some outside of the box thinking. Projected visions of your past haunt you when returning to some areas, but can offer clues about what to do, where to go, or who to talk to next. If you’re still unsure about what to do next, your party members can give you suggestions if you ask them.
Solving puzzles usually provides a small yet thought provoking challenge, but every once in awhile there’s a puzzle where the solution remains unclear until you really think about it and understand how to use the items you’ve been given to interact with the surrounding environment. At these points, sometimes talking to your party members will give you the perfect suggestion, while other times they’ll just tell you what you already know. Personally, I didn’t find this to be too discouraging until late in the game, where the solution to a puzzle was completely unclear despite already knowing my objective. Fans of point and click adventure games will probably be use to this, and might be able to solve this puzzle with little effort, but it felt far more inconspicuous to me than many of those before it.
Although the gameplay was similar to most other point and click adventure games, Unavowed’s narrative is what really got me hooked. At first, you assume the plot only relates to your character specifically. However, as you complete each mission you realize your allies are intertwined in the story as well, revealing plenty of twists and turns along the way. The story is darker and more mature than your average Pajama Sam or Putt Putt, providing a more adult version of a popular genre many of us played when we were younger. Unavowed also deals with deeper themes, many of which bring a more realistic and human element to a world filled with supernatural beings and occurrences .
The visuals of Unavowed are vibrant, and help give a distinct feel to this secret supernatural world hidden within New York City. Each area feels genuine and interactions with the characters encoutnered in each area provide background which further helps bring the world to life. I found myself taking screenshots often just for the beauty of the backgrounds and the brief, but well illustrated cutscenes. The vibrancy of the artwork has an added bonus, making it much easier to notice important items when they aren’t hidden inside or under something.
The audio is of an unexpectedly high quality, with an excellent, varied soundtrack and superb voice acting. A few lines here and there sounded a little off in their delivery, but overall the cast did a great job of portraying their characters. Although dialogue options would sometimes have different outcomes at the tail end of each mission, many others give you the illusion of choice, always leading to the same end no matter what you say. This does cheapen your character’s ability, making it not quite as useful as it could be, and it rarely seems to make much of a difference, despite the importance of your origin .
Unavowed is a perfect fit for those who want a more adult themed point and click game, with a deeper, more supernatural story. It may not be that different in terms of gameplay, but the quality of the art and audio is impressive, and it will be a perfect fit for point and click adventure enthusiasts, as well as any fans of the occult who want to discover a hidden world of magic and monsters.