Modern videogames are capable of doing a great many things. You can bring fantasy worlds to life and deliver compelling stories. You can create suspense and drama. Tease the player, or test their resolve. You can do all of this through highly detailed graphics and complex physics simulations. Or, as you’ll learn in this Unheard review, you could do it all with a simple series of audio recordings and a 2D map.
Unheard is a game unlike anything you’ll ever have played before. It’s an audio-centric experience. So much so, that the game could almost be played entirely without visuals.
The player is given a small environment to explore from a top-down perspective. By ‘explore’, we mean wander through to listen to audio clues that progress along a singular timeline. Depending on the location of the player in said environment, they will be able to hear different parts of the story. You can rewind and fast forward, or even replay the timeline in it’s entirety (each is only a few minutes long). You must then use the evidence you gather to solve whatever case is being presented to you.
This starts off relatively simply. Two twin brothers, and a buttload of drugs. One tried to hide them to frame the other, and it’s up to you to uncover which is the culprit. A confession when supposedly out of range of the police is an easy giveaway. However, Unheard ramps up it’s difficulty from there.
Theft, murder and even bombings. Unheard doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to setting the player cases to solve. It’s wrapped up in some almost unintelligible story about technological advances in criminology and developing psychotic tendencies through it’s use. It offers multiple endings that provide some drama. But honestly, it’s not worth more than a brush over in this Unheard review as it’s so far removed from the interesting part of the game.
Each case is solved by answering deciding the names of each person speaking and answering a few questions. Incorrectly label a character and you’re probably going to give the wrong name for a culprit. It’s a very simple system that works well with the nature of the passive investigations. The core game only offers five cases, but here in the Unheard – Voices of Crime edition, you’re treated to two further challenges previously offered as DLC.
These additional cases standalone from the core game, but act as a continuing pair. They are both longer than the standard cases, and provide an unrelated story. Although the tasks set are the same, finding the solutions are a little more intricate than the original five, perfectly balancing a post-game expansion.
This Unheard review is based on the recently released console editions of the game. Of course, the game has been available on PC for quite some time, and has received a positive response. Unsurprisingly, it comes to consoles on top form. It’s an intriguing experience that’ll you’ll likely want to play from start to finish in one sitting. This is both a blessing and a course, as it’s enjoyable throughout, but may feel too short. However, as in keeping with the theme of the final challenge, always leave them wanting more.