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Unknown Number: A First Person Talker Review

Unknown Number: A First Person Talker Review

It’s getting harder and harder to find true innovation within the videogames industry, which is why Unknown Number: A First Person Talker caught my eye immediately. You see, besides using your keyboard and mouse to navigate the user interface, you’ll also have the opportunity to speak into the on-screen phone to give a wide range of commands. This isn’t the first time a game has used voice commands, but I can’t think of any that have woven it so comprehensively into the storyline.

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A mysterious voice message is left on your phone in which two panicked individuals, named Ethan and Amanda, are asking you to shut off an oil rig's security systems. Now, it turns out they’re trespassing on this rig owned by mega-corporation Sligoil, and they’ve mistakenly called you instead of their person on the outside, Casey, and now it’s up to you to help them (or not) to get through this maze of metal in one piece. The story kicks off immediately and doesn’t let up during the entire thing, making this a tense puzzle title that, for me, was best played in short bursts in order to stay calm, which is impressive considering the game is just a few animated backgrounds, a mobile phone, and a web browser.

As someone who is inadvertently mixed up in this mess of what we soon discover is eco-terrorism in an effort to take down Sligoil, you call the shots on if you want to help the team, or drop the duo in it and contact the police. Whatever you choose, the story is fast-paced and engaging — thanks in no small part to the great voice acting. Each choice offers the potential to diverge into branching paths, making the short run time (my first two playthroughs were under the three hour mark each) just the right length for the game to not drag on. The game auto-saves after practically everything you do, so it was easy to hop in and out and I eventually played it like I was watching some 20 minutes per episode mini-series on Netflix — although the game doesn’t have an episodic nature such as the ever-popular Telltale Games’ many series.

As a whole, the narrative is quite well told, although some of the story branches I found myself in were quite a bit duller than others, whilst many parts were full of clichés, but as a whole, it was an intriguing tale that was worth the multiple playthroughs.

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The game's visuals are incredibly simplistic; animated backgrounds that change depending on what’s happening on the other end of the phone and some simple interfaces to interact with are all that you’ll get in Unknown Number. But, that’s all you really need for a game like this really. Take A Normal Lost Phone for example, another similar-looking title that proves you don’t need lots happening on-screen to be a brilliant game. I just wish there was more colour and life to be found here although the little A.I. partner that reacts to your voicemails was a nice touch.

Audio is great, which — in a story told entirely through phone calls and voicemails — is pretty essential. As mentioned earlier in the review, the voice acting is great (including potential voice acting from yourself as certain puzzles require you to put on accents!) and there was no weak link in the cast, with every character portraying emotions, drama, and a touch of humour fantastically.

Unknown Number is a rather simplistic game on the surface. You navigate through the in-game mobile phone and web browser in order to solve puzzles and help move the story along. You’ll be asked to remember phone numbers, passwords, websites, and so much more during your playthrough, so make sure you have a notepad on hand! It can almost get a tad overwhelming with everything you’re expected to remember, so it’s a shame that there isn’t any way to jot these down within the game itself.

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Puzzles are the key focus of gameplay in Unknown Number, and some of them can be fiendishly tricky! One example was having to wait for an automated response to call you back, with different outcomes depending on how many times you let it ring before answering. The solution to the correct amount was down to figuring out the “12 Days of Christmas” jingle playing in the background on each call. Not sure this was what the song meant by five gold rings, but it was still clever! They’re often those sort of brain teasers that make you go facepalm and shout “obviously!” once you’ve figured them out, before furiously typing/speaking/screaming the answer to move on.

Whilst the majority of the short story was interesting, the more I deviated from the main path the game seemed to be intending for me to go, the more I felt the cohesiveness of the narrative fell apart. Having said that, it’s still a fun experience, and if you’re looking for a quick puzzle game with an original premise, then Unknown Number: A First Person Talker is one to pick up.

7.00/10 7

Unknown Number: A First Person Talker (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Short enough to warrant multiple playthroughs, although some of the storylines aren’t quite as well-written as others, Unknown Number is an interesting title that will have puzzle fans jotting down notes and shouting into their PCs to solve some real headscratchers!

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Mike Crewe

Mike Crewe

Staff Writer

Bought a PS5 and won't stop talking about it

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