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Unrest Review: Originality Isn’t Everything
Unrest is a unique dialogue-driven game that showcases many different perspectives during turmoil in a struggling city. As important political figures, you play a primary role in deciding how the sands of fate fall for both yourself and those around you. As you explore your surroundings and make sense of what’s going on, you’re able to engage with anyone you see. The game labels each conversation option so you’re fully aware of how your actions will affect others, and you can visibly see their fear, respect and friendship levels changing during the exchange.
As one might expect, Unrest requires a huge amount of reading. While voice acting used to be considered a special extra, it’s absence in such a text-heavy game comes across as severely missed potential. Additionally, not every character has something interesting to say and humor is limited, stemming mostly from the odd sarcastic response from your character. As a result, Unrest may very likely challenge your attention span.
Unrest focuses on barraging the player with moral decision-making. This ranges from getting to decide which starving children are given bread that day to whether or not refugees deserve to be abandoned when the city is struggling to care for it’s own. Additionally, many lie and cheat, making it difficult to trust anybody and turns potentially black-and-white decisions a little more foggy.
The dialogue in Unrest is naturally well-written, and while the story can be a little cliché, the use of a variety of first-person perspectives allows a fresh look at story-telling. One minute a character may be portrayed as ‘evil’, only for you to be thrust over to their side to gain an insight onto their motives and beliefs. On the other hand, as you constantly skip from character to character the narrative struggle to flesh out many of the non-playable characters and make them memorable, a failing that is worsened by the simplistic graphics and lack of voicing.
The biggest failing of Unrest lies in the actual importance of your decisions. Like many games before it, Unrest claims that your choices will have a meaningful impact on the storyline and that the game will react to them accordingly. This makes the first play through exciting as you discover your own power to decide everything up to who lives and dies.
On subsequent attempts however, you quickly realize that nothing really mattered. If you prevent one character from dying, another will die to make sure that the story continues on the same track. Other times, extreme decisions will warrant little more than a passing comment a little later on. Even inducing fear or respect in others seems to have little effect on any aspect of the story, making the whole system seem pointless. Additionally, the effect of moral choices is lessened when you realize there is a lack of consequence for anything you do. For those still wishing for a truly reactive game, Unrest is unfortunately not the answer to your prayers.
These issues create a lack of replayability that otherwise should be characteristic of this genre. As a result, the mere 2 or 3 hours that a full play through will take is woefully lacking. Furthermore, the story feels squashed and under-developed, and as such, loses the grand scale and epic-ness that it could have been.
Unrest is a game that will excite many due to it’s relatively unique premise. Unfortunately, like many others, it falls considerably short in it’s execution. While Unrest feels like it was made out of love and inspiration, it ultimately forgets to make sure it fulfills some of the more basic requirements of a good game.