I’m a sucker for an investigative crime game. Mysteries are absolutely my bag, and working out whodunnit feels incredibly rewarding. That being said, there are very few videogames that get it right. Many rely on an approach that’s too accessible and feels like its forcing you towards the right answer. LA Noire is a prime example of this, since it’s impossible to overlook evidence and damn hard to mess up the interrogation scenes. Other titles do a better job, with some such as Paradise Killer giving you absolute authority to get things wrong,
Unheard takes a different approach to many other games in the genre, opting to blend mystery with a little sci-fi and it surprisingly made me feel more like a detective than ever before.
Many thanks to 505 Games for the review code.
CRIME AFTER CRIME
The central premise of Unheard is that you are an acoustic detective: a person able to attune themselves to an aural device so that they can hear all the voices from a given building by simply connecting with the floor plan. Acting as a sort of fly on the wall, you can move around the building as you please whilst eavesdropping on conversations in order to gain enough clues to solve the case.
Set over five cases (more including the packed-in DLC), the goal assigned by your handler is twofold: work out who all the people are by way of linking nametags to each of the non-visible NPCs and answer the burning questions they have about the case. Finding out who is who tends to be easy enough, as most characters will refer to others by name, although some may require a little more figuring out.
The hardest task, of course, is answering the questions. Doing so will require you to listen to the short audios, which typically last about 5-15 minutes in length, and then rewind time so that you can hear someone else’s side of the story in a different area of the building. It’s a tad trite that all cases can be solved from such a short audio snippet, but it’s also something you never really notice either given that a case can take around an hour or so to figure out. It’s a lot of fun, but be prepared to take notes as the later cases can become quite overwhelming with everything going on.
But that’s only a small grievance in what is otherwise a pretty compelling game. Visuals are simple enough not to feel cluttered, and the UI is simple and easy to use. The voice acting can range from excellent to a little exaggerated, but it’s certainly good enough to do the job well.
All in all, Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition offers a unique take on the investigative genre. It may not appeal to those who aren’t willing to focus on a lot of audio in order to figure out each case, but those who are will find a great little detective game.