Unrest is the sort of game I’d like to see made more often: an RPG that forgoes the typical heroic power fantasy and focuses instead on the everyday struggles of ordinary people doing their best to survive in shitty circumstances. Although fairly compact by RPG standards, it’s an ambitious game with a complex narrative laced with political intrigue, interpersonal conflict, and dicey ethical dilemmas. It's also, sadly, not very fun.

The game is set in a mythologised version of ancient India, in the city of Bhimra: a once thriving metropolis that is now a seething cesspool of racial tension and economic disparity. You take the role of several different characters from radically different socioeconomic backgrounds a princess, a priest, a young girl forced to marry a horrible imbecile and must steer them safely through the eponymous unrest that forms the core of the game’s narrative.

It’s an interesting approach, one presumably intended to give the player a broader perspective on the real world social problems by which Unrest is obviously inspired.

However, for this approach to succeed, the player needs to invest in these characters, to inhabit them and understand where they’re coming from and appreciate the circumstances that inform their worldviews. But this is more or less impossible in Unrest because the game has you switching characters every 30 minutes or so, which aside from being disorienting is not nearly enough time to form any kind of meaningful bond. You’re meant to walk a mile in their shoes but the game stops you before you get out the front gate.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of Unrest’s background fiction is presented in great big slabs of ponderous text tucked away in a sub-menu that I suspect most people won’t even realise is there. This again makes it difficult to empathise with the characters under your control. Those disinclined to read a mini thesis on Bhimra’s history and politics will find themselves awash in a sea of confusing terminology and unable to appreciate the wider significance of their choices.
the majority of Unrest’s backgroUnd fiction is presented in great big slabs of ponderoUs text
To the game’s credit, dialogue is tightly written and emotionally engaging, though the dialogue system itself in which an NPCs disposition is represented with three Coloured bars that grow or shrink depending on how you treat them is let down by an uncommunicative interface.

If you’re going to have “influence meters” then you need to make it clear when the player’s actions have an impact. That isn’t the case here.Unrest is an ambitious and unusual game, but not a good one and not worth its fifteen dollar asking price.