Unwording – about Overcoming Negative Self-Talk

Recently I got a recommendation on my timeline on the newly released game called ‘Unwording’. I was interested by the description that it’s a short game with some puzzles and story about ‘overcoming negative self-talk’.

Negative self-talk is something I can quite relate to and struggle with, so I got curious on how the game is going to approach the topic. I saw some screenshots and got interested in the art style as well.

Download on: Steam

Note: this post will go through some spoilers. Personally I feel I could discover the sense of surprise on how the game progresses more without having prior knowledge on how things will go.

The game is basically broken down into three parts, with each having different mechanic and art style to show the progress of the main character.

It starts off with 2D art with muted colors, and our movements are limited to left and right in similar to side scrolling manner, then as the story progresses it will change to 3D version with more colors, angles to explore and more things to interact with in the environment. I like the use of colors in the art.

I think it’s a cool touch that the character gets to explore more things as the game progresses. For example, I was pleasantly surprised to see from the boring office cubicles at the start, then turns out it has a garden for sightseeing, or the street actually has some cafe and shops you could enter into, and we can have small talk with other characters passing by which we couldn’t talk with at first.

I feel it reminds me that even in mundane places we often go to, there might be actually some interesting things that can be discovered when we actually take some time to enjoy and try new stuff, or take the chance to approach others.

The gameplay itself changes over the course of the story, each being pretty unique for me. The first two parts has some word arranging puzzles, which I find interesting and wish there’s more to do. It may be confusing at times, but it’s not complex nor overly difficult to solve.

In the first part we had to rearrange letters from a sentence to another, which represents the character’s mind that warps normal words to negative assumptions and thoughts. For example, when seing ‘no messages’, it warps into ‘no one cares’. I can relate to that when at a low point, our mind often does that kind of thinking that ends up beating ourselves up even more, even if that’s not actually true.

In the second part, we had to literally ‘view the negative words from a different perspective’, by rotating around the letters to see different set of words. For example, from ‘I am poor’ to ‘I don’t need one’. I like that pressing ‘space’ button shows some thoughts related to hints of the new words. It was interesting to see the choice of words it changes to.

The last part is where we can interact with different objects and characters by typing certain words to take action of like ‘chat’, ‘take’, ‘use’ etc. It’s not obvious at times what you can interact with and some of them can be missed as they are not compulsory to proceed – so I got stuck at some times, but I do enjoy wandering around to see what words I can use.

The yellow bird adds a comical touch to the game on an otherwise pretty relatable story (though honestly I would get pretty pissed to see a bird pooping on my bed and phone, I like the animation cutscene on the character’s jumping reaction). For me I find the transition point between some phases in the game felt a bit awkward, but it does not bother me that much soon after.

I do enjoy the game and do wish there’s more to explore, as the game is pretty short as it claims to be and I finished it in less than two hours. I like the puzzle and interaction concepts, and wish there is more content near the ending.

Personally I wish there’s more to the ending to wrap up the plot points throughout the previous parts, especially having more character relationships growth to show. I also got a bit confused on the locked drawer scene, though maybe I just have missed something.

For example while I do enjoy the ending of the main character having a peaceful time on his own, I’d be happy to see him having a meetup with other characters that the protagonist has interacted with before at the end, since there was an option to ‘invite’ them to eat out together and the offer for an office party, or to reach back to the visitor from the first part who gave him some food. 

Overall I do enjoy the game still and and I can see the potential in the concept in delivering the theme it aimed to convey, and the possibility for it to be expanded more. I like the idea of the game changing on each part in both art and gameplay wise, and how it shows the message that can be relatable to daily life for those who struggle with issues relating to the character. The game also provides links to helpful resources to learn more about overcoming negative thinking patterns, so it is worth having a look if it’s something you also feel struggling with.

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