Unwording is an adventure and spelling game that tries to showcase depression in the life of an average individual. The game is very much based on how one perceives it and has a unique way of saying this. The way Unwording conveys these emotions rather bluntly but in a way only games as an art form can do. The short length of the game is what keeps that one gimmick from not getting repetitive.
That is all for the concept and execution of Unwording; it is blunt and has a unique selling point. The game does know not to overstay its welcome, which helps it be a present stroll through depression and its manifestation.
Unwording is available on Steam for $4.99
Story – Perception and Interpretation
The game throws us into the world of our nameless protagonist. They seem sad and lonely. We, as the player, are left to explore their barebones apartment and see how even normal news is perceived by the individual. Here Unwording is far from subtle; it is blunt to a point. The game showcases the banality and loneliness of an urban loner. In a big city with a regular job, no one for friends, just drifting along. No joy in their life as the player character goes along. This is interesting to see as one proceeds. I would be spoiling the key hook of the game. I personally feel it is not detrimental to the experience, but still, this is a spoiler warning.
This urban and mundane life is disrupted for good. Maybe symbolically with a natural being such as a bird. The bird brings more emotions to this life for the protagonist and helps them see the world differently. This leads to them meeting and forming new bonds and joys. Here is where the game’s central “Wow” movement comes from. The game starts in a 2-D plane with a puzzle, but this changes to a 3-D scope at once. This leads to the player seeing the world in a new light and showcasing more joy as the same messages are seen differently.
This is an effective way to communicate this message and something only games can do. I was not aware of this shift, but even without the surprise factor, this is a great new perspective of the game and its gameplay. The concept and story are fun, but they are very shallow. This is because Unwording is a story of themes and not a character. But I do feel like that’s the intention, as the player character is a blank slate for us all. And in that perspective, the game does its job of conveying the story pretty well for its run time.
Gameplay – Spelling the Blocks
The gameplay of Unwording is well-placed in terms of the story. It is all about arranging blocks in the right place so that. It is pretty simple when it starts where you rotate the blocks to get the correct placement. The first half of the game in 2-D is all about that. These are primarily negative in tone. This is because the first half is all about discerning the depression of the player.
But once with a different perspective, the gameplay adapts where all the states in the first half are to be rearranged as block moving so that they give a more positive view. That is it. It is simple and works well with the story. There are hints where the player can fill in words, but personally, I never had to use them. The screen also lights up brighter and brighter as the player gets close to getting the correct order, so that’s helpful.
Graphics and Sound – Mello and Cute
The 2D art style of the game is very simple and cute, and the 3D art style reflects that once it changes. They are rounded and straightforward, which is pleasant to look at. That’s precisely what this game is, pleasant. And it works. Even the menu is moulded as such after the change of perspective.
The music follows the tempo and is very mellow. The music is well-made and feels very diegetic. It keeps the players in mind for the story which is being told. It is a story of concepts seen with the game’s simple tracks.
The key for Unwording was provided by Frostwood Interactive.