Unavowed might be shaping up to be the most interesting thing to happen to adventure games in a long time. It still looks like a Wadjet Eye game - set in New York, designed in AGS, elevated by Ben Chandler’s gorgeous art - so you’ll immediately be reminded of the Blackwell series, but for his first new story in twelve years, Dave Gilbert seems to be trying to push the genre out of its comfort zone. You can get a hint of his ambitions in the new trailer, and come August, we’ll find out if Gilbert succeeded.
What makes Unavowed different from Gilbert’s previous games, including those he published rather than designed, is that it draws a lot from RPGs. Inspired by BioWare in particular, Unavowed lets you pick your character’s background, bring chatty companions with you on your adventures and go down completely different paths. Check out John’s Unavowed preview for more on what it borrows from the genre.
How much your companions affect what you can do when you’re wandering New York, trying to make up for the devastation you caused when you were possessed by a demon (whoops!), is a surprise. You won’t just get some throwaway bits of banter, you’ll unlock new paths and solutions to obstacles.
So say you’ve taken the djinn and the cop, and you encounter a ghostie in a park, you’ll not have the information and options that would have been available to you had you brought Logan on this trip. But then again, if you’d not brought the djinn then you’d not have had anyone who could leap to reach that ladder, and thus scale that wall. Of course, all of this is played out as a 2D pixel adventure, not requiring any actual athletics. Gilbert’s goal is to introduce a lot more variation in how a trad adventure is delivered, importing some of the best RPG tricks, and indeed creating a game that would still be interesting to play after watching someone’s stream of it.
Yeah, that sounds pretty great.
Unavowed is due out on August 8.