Review Fix Exclusive: Inside ‘Unavowed’

Review Fix chats with Wadjet Eye Games’ Dave Gilbert, who lets us know all about the publisher’s newest post and click experience.

About: Unavowed:

With dark forces hell-bent on destroying New York City, it’s always been up to the Unavowed to keep the evil in check. For centuries this supernatural squad has quietly protected humanity by driving hungry demons back into the shadows. But something has changed. Their age-old methods are no longer working. New blood is required to protect the mundane world from a threat stronger than any these crime fighters have faced — and that’s where you come in.

Review Fix: How was this game born?

Dave Gilbert: I first came up with the idea for Unavowed after reading an interview with a former BioWare writer. She described wanting to the option to skip the combat sections of RPGs in order to get to the juicy narrative stuff, and that really resonated with me. The branching narrative and “choose your party” structure of an RPG, but without the combat? That sounded like the point-and-click adventure game of my dreams.  I toyed with the idea of making one myself, but it was a very ambitious undertaking so I put it off. I figured someone would eventually make that game, but nobody did. After waiting several years (and producing several games in the interim) I decided that I finally had the experience and the clout to pull it off. So here I am.

Review Fix: What was development like?

Gilbert: There are a lot of choices and consequences in the story, which have required me to be very careful in how I track player decisions, but otherwise it honestly hasn’t been that much different than any other adventure game I’ve developed. I’m doing all the writing and coding. Ben Chandler, who has worked on several other Wadjet Eye games, is doing all the art. Thomas Regin, who composed the soundtracks for the Blackwell games, is doing all the music. The only major change is that it’s a MUCH bigger game than normal and so has taken exponentially longer to produce. Still, we’re getting there!

Review Fix: Any fun dev stories?

Gilbert: While working on this project, I finally met Ben Chandler (the artist) for the first time. He visited New York so we hung out with our laptops and did co-working. We’d been working with each other since 2010, so finally meeting in person was a lot of fun.

Review Fix: What makes this game special? How is it different from your previous games?

Gilbert: We’re doing a number of things differently this time around. We’ve doubled our usual resolution, for starters. (Instead of 320×200, we’ve leapt up to 640×360!) Ben’s really taken advantage of the higher resolution and the game looks REALLY REALLY good. I’m also very happy with the “choose your party” structure of the game, where you choose two out of four companion characters to go investigating with. In a traditional RPG, changing up your party would change your tactics in combat situations, but in an adventure game like Unavowed, changing your party changes how you solve various puzzles throughout the game world. Your party members have different abilities and histories that affect conversations and how you play through each mission. My goal is for the players to want to replay each mission with different party members to see what changes.

Review Fix: Why are point and click games still important?

Gilbert: Point-and-clicks are very good at delivering a very specific kind of experience. If you want to be in a character’s shoes, walking in their world, experiencing what they experience, then there are few better ways to do it.

Review Fix: What games influenced this one the most?

Gilbert: Unavowed is a broth made out of a love for many different genres and stories. A bit of Dresden Files, Hellblazer, Vampire: Bloodlines, Dragon Age: Origins, and of course adventure games.

Review Fix: As an indie studio, what do you think you guys do differently than the big studios?

Gilbert: Well, we make point-and-click adventure games, for one thing. But seriously, I don’t do things “differently” so much as I do things “the way I want to.” I can make whatever I want, however I want, and I really value that freedom. Wadjet Eye is small and flexible and we like it that way.

Review Fix: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?

Gilbert: Defeating that bastard wizard in King’s Quest 3. I was 12 years old and this was before internet walkthroughs. I’d spent the greater part of a month being zapped, transformed, and humiliated by that guy. When I turned him into a cat I punched the air.

Review Fix: How does this game disrupt the video game landscape?

Gilbert: I’d never be so hubristic to say that my game will set the world on fire, but it’s something I really enjoy and I hope others do, too.

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Review Fix: Who will enjoy this game the most?

Gilbert: This sounds pretentious to say, but I never design a game with a specific audience in mind. I design games for me and me alone. Whenever I focus on pleasing a specific market or demographic, the final product ALWAYS falls short. So I just focus on making myself happy. Usually that’s enough.

Review Fix: What are your goals for the game?

Gilbert: That it sells enough copies to earn our living, stay in business, and keep making games! Oh, and enough to buy a villa in the south of France would be a nice bonus.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Gilbert: I’m getting back into the publishing game and working with James Dearden on a Technobabylon sequel. It’s in VERY early pre-production at the moment (we’re barely out of the design document stage) so there’s nothing to show, but I’m really excited to be a part of that world again.

Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?

Gilbert: Nothing much, except to say that 12 years ago I never would have imagined I’d be where I am. I am grateful for that every day.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 7858 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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