Game review: Unrest
History tends to chronicle the epic wars and fantastic feats of bravery. Many of the video games too tend to go down on that path. However, there are some daring independent and large game studios that have ventured into making games which show and educate people the other side of war. Unrest is one such game from a small indie developer, that allows you to experience what it was like living in ancient India.
Bhimra is one of the mightiest and richest cities of ancient India. However, a severe drought brings the city down to its knees. The hunger and disease drives the residents of the city to the edge, and you get to experience it first hand from five viewpoints.
A princess is forced to flee from her palace and hide in slums. A diplomat from the Nagas, a race of snake people, doing everything to mend the strained diplomatic relations between the two races. A mercenary captain trying to maintain peace in a city on the verge of violence and riot. A priest facing the hard decision of losing his faith or his family. Lastly, a young girl who is forced to marry for the survival of her village. As these people struggle to survive, a rebellion is brewing.
Unrest is a purely story driven RPG, you have no party of adventurers or a bard to sing on your merry way. It’s a game that lets you grow with the story. While the game finds its footing, things really start to pick up after the abrupt first few scenes involving the uprising. Almost, as if the writers were in a rush to get this over with.
However, once you get to the stories, that’s where the real magic of Unrest sets in. Each of the story is powerful in its own right, the ones that hit the hardest are the peasant girl Tanya; the fallen princess Asha; and the priest Bhagwan.
You wade through each of these stories through lots of written text and conversations where you have to make dialogue choices. To aid you in the tone of each dialogue is a helpful one-word description that helps you plan how to negotiate and talk yourself out of situations.
You play the game from a top-down three quarters perspective, very much like Diablo and Baldurs Gate. Dialogues appear in big boxes filled with text. All dialogues are written. Yes, there is also a bit of violence, very little though. So, if you like hacking things up with swords and are averse to reading, then stop right now, Unrest is not the game for you.
The developers have focused all efforts into crafting a rich world with lots of written dialogue with emotional depth, taking into consideration the caste
system that has been a big part of India then and now too. You are forced to make tough decisions just for a meagre piece of bread, or for your very survival. The writing is top notch, and there are times where you will pause the game to absorb the gravity of the situation and your decision. Things really don’t let up in the game, and you actually feel for these characters.
Decisions you make not only play a big part in your day-to-day survival, but also affect the world around you. Too much violence can instigate violence, a few wrong decisions can spell disaster. The designers have done a fantastic job of stacking up the odds against you.
While Unrest scores high in its simple yet effective writing, the graphics leave more to be desired. Sure, at first glance, the hand drawn visuals bring to mind Bal Bharati text book illustrations most Indians are familiar with in school. This also brings a bit of nostalgia in the first hour of the game or so. However, the gritty realism in the story loses a bit when it comes to the presentation. Even something close to the first Baldurs Gate or the original Diablo would have increased the impact of the story ten-fold.
Unrest is a beautifully written tale, with stories from a fantasy ancient troubled time that punch you in the stomach. Think of it as an interactive book, where you drive the story through clever dialogues. Recommended for gamers who want something different and non-gamers who want something that’s not unconventional to read and experience.
Price: $14.99 Platform: PC
Features- A unique quasi-fantasy historical perspective Well thought out, and written