ReviewsReview: Unknown Number

Review: Unknown Number

A First Person Talker

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I rarely encounter innovative gaming experiences. With many titles following tried and tested mechanics, there is a distinct lack of originality. Recently, the most eye-opening games have been A Way Out and It Takes Two. These games tested how we worked together and pushed their player base to think outside the box. As such, whenever I find a developer who tries to be innovative, I sit up and take notice. Unknown Number: A First Person Talker does just that with its incredibly unique core mechanics. What’s more, it has an enthralling story and some excellent acting all wrapped up in a simple approach.

Developed and published by Godolphin Games, this is a voice-controlled adventure puzzle title. Furthermore, there are some minor story branches that impact how the game plays out. Alongside this, you’ll experience an uneasy plot that twists and turns and leaves you feeling uncomfortable. Developer Thomas Keane has taken influence from some unusual and experimental titles. With an eclectic blend of themes, he points to Her Story, Kind Words (Lo Fi Chill Beats to Write to), and Before your Eyes as a source of inspiration. However, it is fair to say that his creation stands alone in both its presentation and its core mechanics.

Unknown Number will confuse you with some tricky puzzles.
Do you know Morse code?

Unknown Number grabs your attention immediately.

When a game is pushing the envelope, I worry that it’ll lose its way. Somehow, Unknown Number retains its creepy charm while immediately grabbing your attention. With an almost episodic approach, you tackle the story in bite-sized chunks, and this was phenomenal. With so much going on and plenty of cryptic puzzles to solve, it could have been overbearing. However, the slow-paced delivery, combined with the energetic and dramatic plot, ensures that you are never out of your depth.

You are an innocent bystander who inadvertently becomes embroiled in a dangerous plot to take down an oil giant. An innocuous phone call uncovers a secret plan to steal valuable assets from a company known as Sligoil. However, the party behind the call soon realise that you were not their intended recipient. Yet, desperate for help, they drag you into their seedy affair in order to solve puzzles and open each of the 7 vaults that stand in their way. Without you, Ethan Hammer and Amanda Reid will fail in their mission. Accordingly, you must decide whether to join forces with these eco-warrior criminals or abide by the Met police’s advice and give up your newfound friends. Whatever you decide, the consequences will be deep-seated and the ramifications will rumble on for years.

The board at Sligoil are greedy and sly.
How long until this board turn on you?

Action, puzzles, and a mobile phone.

The story sounds incredibly exciting, but the mechanics are slow, methodical, and deliberate. As such, the narration and the problem-solving wonderfully juxtapose each other. Accordingly, it takes a bit of getting used to, especially when the shit hits the fan. Unknown Number’s key principle revolves around its voice-controlled experience. During every puzzle and most phone calls, you are expected to answer clearly and concisely. Now, this is a fantastic twist on normal puzzle titles. Instead of giving you mountains of time to resolve the issue, you must think fast and deliver a solution to keep the protagonists alive.

You are expected to move guards by hacking into a PA system, crack unusual codes to unlock doors, solve chemical formulas, relay Morse code, and much, much more. Alongside this, you must decipher a range of mind-boggling cryptic clues as a timer ticks down and orders are barked over the phone. Consequently, there is an uncomfortable pressure that pushes you during every chapter. Now, this isn’t a complaint, as it works perfectly with the drama and the flow of the story.

Alongside this, your imagination runs wild as you only hear selected portions of audio. Subsequently, you must fill in the blanks and interpret many segments of the story. This was particularly great, especially when the police phone calls cast shadows over the legitimacy of what you are trying to achieve. Consequently, the plot is a mystery right up until the finale, and this makes it gripping, exciting, and tough to put down.

I loved hacking the PA to open the vaults.
Move the guards and open the vaults.

Grab a notepad and speak clearly.

There are many brilliant elements, but two areas that may frustrate you are note-taking and the lack of an alternative input method. In order to complete Unknown Number, you must have a pen and paper handy. This shouldn’t be a problem, and in fact, I enjoyed the note-taking and problem-solving moments. However, a lack of an in-game journal or notebook was a mistake. It would have been helpful to be able to pin key information on the main screen and it would have saved paper at the same time.

The second issue won’t impact everyone, and I know the game’s USP is its voice-controlled approach. Yet, gamers who have no microphone, or those who have speech impairments, cannot play this amazing title. Therefore, I would like to see an alternative input method incorporated as a backup. If this was included, it would make it a more versatile game that manages to retain its dark and creepy charms.

Unknown Number is incredibly atmospheric.

I was amazed that a simple graphical approach could be so atmospheric. Most of the action focuses on a rudimentary touch screen phone and an animated robotic logo. Alongside this, there is a dated and charming internet search browser that’ll remind you of the 90s. Furthermore, the environment has a futuristic edge thanks to the rich colour palette and cold imagery. During each chapter, you are introduced to different backdrops that help to set the scene. This straightforward visual trigger changes the dynamic of each segment while adding variety throughout.

Though the visuals were great, the audio was better, still. The blend of incredible sound effects, cold and callous automated messages, and brilliant acting sucks you into this dangerous world. Furthermore, you soon empathise with Ethan and Amanda as their passion and drive outweigh their criminal approach. I adored the everyday sound effects and danger associated with every alarm, warning message, and oppressive voicemail.

Follow directions to get to your destination safely.
Use the map to navigate the rig.

Tick, tick, tick goes the timer.

When much of the action focuses on time-critical tasks, you’ll be focused on the ticking timer. Fortunately, this simple element was easy to understand and a cinch to follow. Further to this, the other basic controls worked well and were responsive. As long as you were patient with each cryptic clue, the delivery of a solution was neither difficult nor was it taxing to execute.

Unfortunately, Unknown Number isn’t the longest game I’ve played. But what you experience is enjoyable, touching, and memorable. On top of this, its £11.99 price point is great value when you consider the unique core mechanic. To complete the game and experience everything on offer, you’ll need to invest approximately 4 to 5 hours. As such, there is ample gameplay for the price.

Unknown Number is an innovative title.

Unknown Number immediately grabbed my attention! Its amazing voice-controlled mechanics are so unusual that I admired the developer’s original mindset and bravery. This unique approach must be applauded, and it needs to be tried to be appreciated. However, I shouldn’t overlook the incredible puzzles and awe-inspiring audio that deliver the amazing and touching plot. Accordingly, this is one indie title that sets the bar extremely high. Undoubtedly I fell for its charms and therefore I can easily recommend you to buy it here! Will you be able to solve every problem and help out your new friends? Note down the clues, crack the puzzles, and decide which side you are on.

SUMMARY

Unknown Number: A First Person Talker is a one of a kind title. This groundbreaking game will creep you out while making you think. Can you solve the cryptic clues and drive the story forward? Enjoy the simple approach, the atmospheric aesthetics, and the uncomfortable nature of the plot.


+ Simple but effective mechanics.
+ The voice-controlled genre is long overdue.
+ Excellent acting.
+ Colourful and straightforward graphics.
+ Great controls.
+ A unique concept.

- No alternative input method.
- A virtual notebook should have been included.

(Release date: 21/09/2022 Price: £11,99)


(Reviewed on PC using Steam. Only available on PC)


Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

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<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="font-size:14px"><em>Unknown Number: A First Person Talker</em> is a one of a kind title. This groundbreaking game will creep you out while making you think. Can you solve the cryptic clues and drive the story forward? Enjoy the simple approach, the atmospheric aesthetics, and the uncomfortable nature of the plot.</p><br/> + Simple but effective mechanics.<br/> + The voice-controlled genre is long overdue.<br/> + Excellent acting.<br/> + Colourful and straightforward graphics.<br/> + Great controls.<br/> + A unique concept.<br/> <br/> - No alternative input method.<br/> - A virtual notebook should have been included.<br/> <br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(<b>Release date:</b> 21/09/2022 <b>Price:</b> £11,99)</p><br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(Reviewed on PC using Steam. Only available on PC)</p><br/>Review: Unknown Number