By Craig Pearson on February 17th, 2012 at 3:11 pm.
I’ve just had couple of playthroughs of Molleindustria’s Unmanned and my immediate reaction to it was that I wanted other people to play it and talk about it. It’s about the mundanity of one man’s life, despite being a UAD pilot for the military, and the thoughts that flit through his brain during the day. You pick at those threads, creating his inner-monologue while carrying out his actions. I want to know how you went about it, but I don’t want to spoil much before you do here, but there’s more detail below. I’d just rather you didn’t read beyond this paragraph before having at least one game.
It has an odd, split-screen method to the action. Click around and make things happen: some stuff looked like a cut-scene until I used my mouse over it. My first playthrough I went with my instincts. He woke from a nightmare and I wanted to cheer him up, which meant focussing on the cheerier thoughts. I was attempting to make his day better. He had a positive outlook on work while shaving, although driving I managed to swerve off the road thanks to an IM I received (in the real world). At work I steered toward flirting with the boss and chatting on the phone to the wife I aimed to be a protective father. Back home I was the jocular, easy going dad that didn’t pry.
The odd thing was that he was utterly unlike me in real-life, and I’m still wondering why I decided to take the easy route. There are obvious threads that the dialogue will take you down, and I actively avoided anything that felt heavy. There’s something about his demeanor that made me want to avoid walking him through heavier implications. Maybe it felt like prying? Or maybe the choices have a devastating mundanity. People have to make difficult decisions and ask hard questions everyday, and I took a blinkered view. It did feel like I was playing the way he’s gone through life up to this point.
The second playthrough I stayed on the road, and something wonderful happened. You’ll see, and it’ll be stuck in your head all day. I also focused this time on making people happy around me, even if it seemed like I’d have to deal with the consequences. Not that there are. The achievements you earn as you play are slightly mocking.
I’m hoping to crowd-source all the variables, to see what you went through, and why. It’s not huge: there’s about five minutes here, but they’re worthwhile.