There is a major resurgence in point-n-click adventure games going on, and at the heart of it you’ll find a little company from Brooklyn called Wadjet Eye Games. This developer consists of Dave Gilbert, his wife Janet, artist Ben Chandler and designer Francisco Gonzalez. Dave is an old pro when it comes to adventure games and he has built a great team around him. Previous titles by Wadjet Eye Games are the Blackwell series, The Shivah, Resonance, Gemini Rue and Technobabylon to name but a few.
Wadjet Eye Games have several things in common: a thrilling story with twists and turns you don’t see coming, great artwork, excellent voice acting, multiple viewpoints, and smooth gameplay. The games exude the atmosphere of the point-n-click adventure games of old; playing them can give you the feeling that you’re back in the golden age of adventure games when LucasArts and Sierra Online ruled the world and a new King’s Quest or Monkey Island sold well over a hundred thousand copies. Wadjet Eye Games can definitely be considered as a modern heir to that throne.
Who You Gonna Call?
Which brings me to their latest release: Unavowed. Most Wadjet Eye games have something supernatural or science fiction going on, and Unavowed is no exception. When the game begins, you are immediately dropped into an exorcism. The first dialogue functions as a character building process where you pick a gender and a profession. The first time I played the game, I chose a male police officer, the second time I chose a female actor. This gave me a completely different opening scene and is of influence later in the story. It also means that this game is very replayable as you can start over, pick a different profession and experience the game in a very different way.
After surviving your first exorcism, you’re introduced to Eli and Mandana who tell you what happened and why you have no clue what’s going on. You are a wanted murderer due to a demonic possession. The police don’t know that obviously and luckily they are there to help you. They believe in your innocence, and they recruit you into the New York chapter of the Unavowed, an international supernatural peacekeeping unit. This is where the story really kicks into gear. You find yourself going on missions with your two new partners, trying to solve the mystery of your possession and other weird cases that may or may not tie into that.
Everything Is Awesome
One of the things I always love in movies, tv shows, games, etc. is that you meet interesting characters along the way and they become part of your team. It’s quite common in RPG’s, but not necessarily in adventure games. In Unavowed, you meet and recruit some very interesting and useful people during your investigations. This also means you must select your party before tackling each mission. Either Eli or Mandala must be present, but the second character you take with you can be one of the new crew. This logically has an impact on what clues you find and on how you solve the case.
This reminded me a lot of LucasArts’ classic Maniac Mansion, where you choose two companions for your character at the start of the game. This and other choices you make cause a lot of branching storylines and replayability, an unusual trope for a point-n-click adventure game.
The writing is top notch, as you can expect from a Wadjet Eye story. Combined with the artwork this gives the game a cinematic quality that would not be out of place in a Hollywood movie or an HBO show. I don’t know if Harry Dresden or The X-Files were of influence here, but I definitely got that vibe while playing Unavowed, and I loved it. To top it all off, the game has a twist in the middle that I absolutely did not see coming and completely blew me away. For me, it was one of the best twists I’ve ever seen in an adventure game.
The controls are very simple: the cursor will change into what kind of interaction is possible with an object or person. This makes the game very easy and intuitive to control. The game is not extremely long or difficult – I finished it in a weekend – but because it’s so replayable it has a longevity that’s uncommon for these kind of games. It is challenging enough to keep both new players and veterans of the genre entertained. I had an absolute blast playing Unavowed and I’m glad I waited until I got back from holiday; otherwise it would’ve been constantly on my mind, because it’s that good. This game will leave you wanting more.