Epic Llama’s newest game Unusual Findings is a difficult point-and-click puzzle game, packed with cheesy jokes, interactive environments and pop-culture references. From the art-style to the dialogue, Unusual Findings is a blatant love letter to the 80s and is great for sci-fi fans who enjoy a challenge.
Unusual Findings is available on PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Xbox and Steam for $19.99 USD (£15.99 GBP, $19.99 EU).
Story- Classic Sci-Fi
Unusual Findings‘ pixelated world feels lived in. It is the 80s and nearly Christmas. You play as Vinnie, as he and his friends Nick and Tony sneak out on a night they’re supposed to be grounded. Through visiting the various locations, you will find characters and objects you need to interact with in order to progress the story. This follows the usual sci-fi trope of a group of teens uncovering more than they bargain for when they decide to meddle with technology.
I really enjoyed how everything is in the game for a reason. Certain trinkets may be useful later, and your approach to tasks affects how the story plays out. The writing is humorous, finding a nice balance between cheesy and dark. The narrative is well written and is mainly told through the dialogue exchanges, which you should pay attention to, and respond appropriately. You are warned early on: “your attitude towards people matters.”
Gameplay- Point, Click and Discover
The gameplay mechanics follow standard point-and-click rules. You point and then you click. The control scheme was nice and simple. Use the right thumb stick to control the cursor, X to select and then the cursor again to choose one of three options. By pressing up on the D-pad, any interactive objects in the area are highlighted. Unusual Findings also has an interactive inventory, where you can combine objects in order to create more useful ones.
The dialogue is vital. There is a lot to learn through clicking on random objects, as between them the trio have an encyclopaedic number of facts. Characters rambling’s may at first seem completely irrelevant but actually hold essential clues to solving puzzles. The whole game is a puzzle, as your earlier ‘irrelevant’ interactions affect outcomes later on
Despite being able to highlight interactive objects, the puzzles are quite difficult, and there is little in the way of clues. This means that some trial and error is needed and starting over can be necessary. If you find yourself stuck it is best to retrace your steps and reinitiate some conversations. It is also important to interact with everything. Objects can sometimes have environmental impacts too.
Graphics and Audio- All Out 80s
8-bit pixels certainly don’t mean less detail. I understand that in an age of HD some may question the use of this art-style. However, when used as effectively as in Unusual Findings it is hard to complain, especially seeing as this is the point. Everything stays within its theme and the bits of merchandise replicated in pixel art are a joy to find. The whole visual aesthetic gave me an image of the developers building the game like LEGO, brick-by-brick.
An area of improvement here would be adding text backgrounds. The dialogue comes up on screen for you to follow. Given the design choices of the game, it sometimes camouflages in the background, or can be hard to follow. It would be nice to have the option of adding in background to the subtitle text, just to make it easier to distinguish from the general background.
The audio is all out 80s, with the catchy opening song and the techno beats played in the background throughout. Ambience sound changes too, depending on which location you are visiting. The objects you can interact with have also been given life through sound and aren’t there to merely fill the space. I also need to mention the voice acting in this game. With the given dialogue, it can be easy to “over-act” the lines, in particular when conversing with a microphone. However, the voice acting met the script with a perfect balance, and comedic lines weren’t lost while delivering the story.
Unusual Findings was reviewed on PS4, with a key provided by Stride PR.