I feel that in recent times I’ve been mainly solving hard crimes, what with Sherlock Holmes The Awakened and the FMV Murderous Muses on my review list. I’m not complaining because I do love a good whodunnit and working through the clues, eliminating suspects, and deciding the final deduction of the main criminal is becoming like second nature to me.
So it was with great anticipation that I loaded up Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition, expecting more of the same. But I was in for a surprise. Because the game isn’t about finding clues from looking around, but rather from what you hear. Let’s open our ears and try and work out who has done what.
The premise of Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition is that you are an acoustic detective. That means you have the ability to listen to a recording and work out the perpetrator of the crime being committed. You are looking at various crimes from the past, set across different locations and by acting as a sort of fly on the wall you can visit all the rooms in the floorplan and listen to the conversations within. The last location is the present day and that recording reveals all the truths about who you are and what has been happening.
The story is the key here, that and the characters that you meet. The five different locations you go to have recurring motives and characters, even though the crimes themselves are very different. And it must be said, sticking a headset on whilst you play Unheard will help, immersing you into the environments and narratives on offer. I think the stories are very good and the whole concept is clever as I will try to explain now.
When you go into a case to solve you are presented with a floor plan of the location. There’s a police station, an art gallery, a theatre, and a psychiatric hospital and you can see the whole layout with all the rooms in that place. You have a little character icon that is represented by a cursor that allows you to move across the map and go into every room. And it’s here where you’ll find a piece of audio that plays over a period of time. You can pause, rewind, and fast-forward that audio to your heart’s content, relistening to it a few times if you want to get your answers.
How the game works is that whatever room you are currently in you will hear the conversations from characters or suspects in that room. These characters will sometimes move around the location to different rooms and you can follow them to get their whole story. But if one or two characters are talking in one room, simultaneously there is another room with other characters chatting. So you’re going to need to replay the scene a few times to get all the clues you need to solve the crime.
It’s up to you to, first of all, uncover all the names of the characters through the audio. This requires careful examination as they might only be mentioned once or twice in passing. The second part is in answering a few questions concerning the crime connected to the location. So for example it might be “Who stole the painting?” or “Who planted the bomb?”. Get these right and you’re onto the next case.
If you buy into Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition from the start, as the simple gameplay and examining audio allows you to go into detail, then you are going to have a great time with this original concept. If you don’t like the idea though, then there’s a chance you aren’t going to get on with what is on offer. I fell into the former camp, liked it and enjoyed listening and re-listening to the narratives.
The visuals are good too, with a clean UI and the floorplans of all the maps being well designed and clever. There are some animated comic book-style cut scenes that work well between each location and a nice summing up of the case is done with visuals and audio alike; that is also a nice touch. Sound-wise it does an excellent job, and that’s a bit of luck because without that, Unheard would fall flat on its face. The actors commit to all their roles and it’s intriguing to listen to what plays out, feeling very much like a radio play.
Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition is a clever game with a running time of around five hours or so, mostly dependent on how quickly you solve the cases. The detectives out there will enjoy the analysis of each case, as well as the going backwards and forwards with the audio to find the clues.
If that sounds like something you would like to spend time doing then come along and play Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition.