Aw yeah! It’s almost April and now I’ve beaten 2 whole games this year (Jeez, no wonder I gave up on my old backlog conquering blog theme). This quirky, and very short, indie game was introduced to me in iplayedthegame’s great post about it last week. He explained how it was fast and free so why the hell not? I’m likely going to be playing BoTW and HZD until the end of the world anyway. Conquering a tiny point and click adventure is a great way to feel like I accomplished something in the meantime.
How Far I Got
It took me a grand total of 20 minutes to figure out what was going on and beat the game. I must say it’s a very interesting concept, and very well done considering it took a dev team of 3 people a mere 10 days to complete. It’s kind of hilarious that this blog post about it will take longer than 20 minutes to write.
This game is the product of something called a Game Jam, a new concept to me. Apparently these are competitions between Indie developers where they have to create a themed game within a time limit. This one specifically came from Resist Jam that ran from March 3-13 this year. Like most of the sane world, I hate oppressive regimes and building video games around the theme of resisting them is a great idea in my books. Unloop by Hexagon Blue boils down to a mini point-and-click adventure set in a shady government controlled society. The main character is a sarcastic scientist named Alby who is the guinea pig for some questionable time meddling experiments. His engineer partner and friend Ben is the brains behind their government sanctioned operation.
Unsurprisingly, the main character is controlled by clicking where you want him to go. His movements are a bit slow, and I also found that Alby and Ben wander around in odd circles before heading where they are suppose to go. These are very minor technical faults when you consider the amount of time that went into this. You are given dialog options and objects to examine, which serve as great ways to explain the situation. Alby doesn’t even leave the starting room for the duration of the game. I can’t say anything about why without ruining everything, but the overall plot is a lot more interesting than it sounds. I would say this is the equivalent of a good 1,000 word short story by an aspiring author, if you consider a regular AAA game an epic full length novel by someone famous. Events unfold quickly and it won’t take long before you think: “Oh, ha ha! The game’s title is really clever.”
I can best describe the weird and wonderful character designs as stylish humanoids made of bricks, in a sort of Minecrafty fashion. There is a simple polished look to the bleak lab room where the game takes place. The bright red objects and white lighting effects really pop out at you against that depressing colour scheme. I think it’s a truly amazing animation feat for 10 days of work, and it conveys the coldness of their world appropriately. I did notice Alby and Ben walk through a few inanimate objects, but again, just forgivable minor technical faults.
The somber tune that plays during the game fits the grim themes perfectly. It’s a low futuristic beat that just screams shady lab area, and it really helps add dark emotions to the setting.
My Overall Biased Opinion
It’s extremely unfair to compare this great Indie experience to a big studio made video game, where the credits roll longer than the duration of this title. I’ll say it again: 3 people made this game in 10 days for a competition. I think end result is a spectacular Indie gaming achievement worthy of 20 minutes of your precious time. It costs nothing and is a 17.3 MB .exe file on your computer. Just try it out if you’re even remotely interested.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You have been warned.
This “Memory Lane” section of my “Post Playthrough Roundups” is a way for me to remember my journey through a game. Spoilers will be present here so please avoid this unless you’ve already played the game, or don’t have any plans to. Feel free to share any experiences you’ve had with this game in the comments area thingy below.
My Plot Summary
I’m about to ruin everything so please heed my all caps spoiler warning in this section and stop reading if you plan on playing this. Last chance to stop reading my ramblings…
Okay, within the first 5 minutes, it was obvious poor Alby was trapped in a time loop caused by the experimental machine he was working on. The name of the game made total sense after this! Unloop implies you need to free Alby from his 5 minute time loop paradox. Very clever. Anyway, in my first loop Ben was killed by a collapsed machine after a mortar strike. A very unforgiving government agent, known as Sec, showed up shortly after to question Alby. When this Sec person couldn’t verify Alby’s story with his truth scanner device (the time paradox was interfering with it), it was grounds enough to execute Alby on the spot, no questions asked. Harsh government punishment at its finest… The screen goes white and some rather chilling words describe what happened – “As the bullet enters your skull the cracking sound and pain become one. You always feared your life would end this way.”
Instead of a Game Over screen, Alby emerges from the machine again, seemingly back at the start of the game. I tried a few new response options to convince Ben about his imminent death. He thinks Alby is joking and it appears he will meet a grim fate again. I made Alby trick Ben into leaving the room to go fetch a scanner. The mortar strike happens again but the machine collapses harmlessly to the floor this time. Ben returns and credits Alby with saving his life. Now I’m able to convince Ben there is a time paradox happening (near death experiences tend to make people more understanding). Ben tells Alby a secret to share with him once the loop restarts. The screen fades white again and Ben’s big secret is that he let his sister get bitten by a snake when he was a little kid (jerk). After his dark secret is revealed, Ben shoots Alby in the head (what a nice friend), and the loop begins again.
This time Alby tells Ben, the horrible brother, his dark secret. Ben instantly believes there is a paradox happening, and he warns Alby to keep the details to himself. They plan to fix the machine but fear what will happen if their corrupt government gets a hold of such power. I was presented with two options: Give it to the evil government so Alby and Ben will be safe from prosecution, or keep it from their corrupt overlords and risk getting harsh punishment. I chose to keep it from the claws of corruption, and then the credit screen shows. I win! This story concept reminded me of the Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask, seeing as how you repeat the same 5 minutes, instead of 3 days.