Release Date: July 23, 2014
Publisher (Developer): KISS ltd (Pyrodactyl Games)
ESRB Rating: N/A
I feel betrayed. Unrest has let me down. I’d even say I’m close to rioting, which is ironic given the nature and tone of the game. It’s heartbreaking as well, because 1.8 hours into Unrest, I was savoring every moment of Pyrodactyl Games’ adventure and eagerly anticipating all kinds of resolutions and outcomes. Then, 1.9 hours in, the dream died.
The melting pot bubbles over.
The premise was promising. Pyrodactyl took to Kickstarter to fund a dialogue heavy game, where players would walk in the shoes of multiple people of various genders, races, ages, and castes in the fantasy land of Bhimra. The country is in a state of severe drought, people are dying, and a significant number of snake-people from the overcrowded Naga Empire have spilled over the border in search of work and a new home. Tensions are at an all-time high, and the result is a game that offers a most unique perspective and look into the lives of very different people affected by the situation.
Unrest‘s goal? For players to feel like their decisions matter and influence each character’s lives. At key points in both major and minor events in the story, people are able to see how ordinary civilians, people of power, and pawns on every side react. Gameplay consists of sending the character whose shoes you currently inhabit around the city, slums, palace, and village, stopping to talk to everyone, and making dialogue changes that might alter that character, and perhaps even Bhimra’s, destiny.
The bottom falls out
It’s impossible to not be pulled into the world of Unrest. There are so many compelling characters in play, a myrid assortment of puzzles and storylines, and I felt the vast array of dialogue options resulted in a game where I truly felt like my decisions mattered. I was invested in characters lives. I played for almost two hours straight, staying up until almost 2am on July 24, 2014, fighting sleep because I was desperate to find out what happened next.
Then, Unrest and Pyrodactyl Games betrayed me.
Unrest has serious gameplay issues. The music is beautiful, but it’s looping and I noticed technical difficulties where it seemed as though it would sputter before another repetition. The point-and-click movement controls didn’t always send characters on the quickest, most efficient, or even correct path to a location. The characters’ movement speed varied, as they’d sometimes sprint swiftly across the screen, and others slowly walk. Yet, I was ready to forgive all of this. The storytelling was so captivating that, for those first 1.8 hours, I was determined to write a review encouraging people to look past the minor imperfections to see the bigger picture.
That last 0.1 hour ruined everything, because in that brief span of time, Pyrodactyl ruined Unrest for me. This is a game designed to draw players in and keep them captivated in these virtual characters lives. Players root for the humans and the Naga characters. These characters deserve to find happiness, peace, and prosperity. They don’t.
There is no resolution. Characters are introduced. The player bonds with them. Then, all the people you’ve come to care about disappear. Each of the major players’ tales end on a cliffhanger. I found myself swearing at a screen, scouring the internet to see if I’d made a bad choice and come to a “bad end” in a game that isn’t supposed to have right and wrong answers. Instead, I learned a horrible truth.
There is no resolution.
With Unrest, Pyrodactyl Games started a game and didn’t finish it. The fact that this is an indie, Kickstarter game with a $3,000 goal that raised $36,251 is meaningless. Pyrodactyl committed to something, and they didn’t finish it. When you play a game, you expect a complete story. All we’ve really been given is a beginning. I can’t even say there’s a middle, because the credits roll exactly where the plot reaches its climax. The most exciting, engaging event of Unrest happens, then Pyrodactyl cheats us out of the falling action and denoument. It’s a tragedy, because everything leading up to that moment is literary perfection, culminating in a moment of anguish as the player realizes they connected with these characters for nothing. It is the video game equivalent of falling in love with a character in Game of Thrones, then discovering they die in A Storm of Swords. If you go into Unrest, do so knowing that it will let you down and break your heart.
Site [Pyrodactyl Games]