Developer NExT Studios and publisher 505 Games brings you a detective title with a very intriguing twist. A game where your ears will be your greatest asset.
“What if you could hear every word spoken at the scene of a crime? “Acoustic Detectives” wanted for testing our new device! Return aurally to crime scenes and use the voices you hear to identify potential suspects and solve the mysteries. What is it that’s connecting these seemingly unrelated cases?”
Unheard originally saw a release for PC back in 2019. It has since seen a new release called Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition for modern consoles. This new version is the original game, with a new case thrown in for good measure. As for what the game entails? Well, it is most probably something that you have never quite played before. It’s not all that easy to explain either.
You are asked to test out a new device that allows you to become an ‘acoustic detective’. Aside from the cutscenes between each case that fills out the story, the entire game is played from a top-down perfective and on a kind of blueprint map. On these maps, you are free to explore them and their rooms. You’ll hear people talking but have no idea who is who. This is the first part of the game, putting a name to the voices of each person. You’ll need to listen to conversations (sometimes only one side of them too, depending on the location) and work out which name belongs to which person.
See, Unheard is a very audible-driven title. Listening is key and piecing together that audio is the only way to solve each case. As a quick example, the first case has you trying to work out which of two suspects planted some drugs to frame the other. These two suspects are twin brothers and one of them may be trying to pass themselves off as the other. As you can only hear one side of a conversation at any one time, you’ll have to listen to one brother give his side of the story, rewind time and then go and listen to the other bother. From there (if you’ve been paying attention) you should have the information to deduce which bother is which and which of them planted the drugs.
That first case is simple enough, but the difficulty soon ramps up with more intricate crimes, more people to listen to and more pieces of evidence to uncover. Cross-referencing all you have learned is vital and you have the ensure that you listen to everyone at any given time, although the case. That first case with the twin brothers features audio that only lasts about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. But because you’ll need to rewind and listen to other people, the time to solve the case increases. This aspect really ramps up in later cases and you’ll find yourself spending an hour or more making sure that you have listened to everybody talk and that you know every aspect of the plot before you can draw your conclusions and single out the person, or persons responsible for the crime.
The basic premise of Unheard really is very easy to understand and get to grips with. However, solving each case will take a lot of time and effort. Deduction is key and even though each case is only a few minutes long, the fact that you’ll need to rewind the action (audio) and listen to everybody means that even a case that is 5 minutes long will take longer to actually crack.
£9 is all that Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition will cost you and it is available now on PC and all the consoles. If I had to pick a niggle or two. The first would be the fact that there are no subtitles. Yeah I know that this is an audible-driven title and the main point is that you are meant to listen. But hey, I just like subtitles and often find that reading makes things sink in faster than listening. It would’ve been nice for subtitles to have been an option. The other niggle? Unheard is very short and you’re looking at between 4-6 hours before you see the end credits.
Still, priced at just £9, I think that the shortness of the game can be forgiven. The cases that you have to solve have been crafted brilliantly and will leave you scratching your head a few times as you turn all Lieutenant Columbo. Then, these cases are tied together with a story that will make more sense as the game progresses. All of these seemingly unrelated crimes may just be related after all.
Overall, Unheard – Voices of Crime Edition is a small package, but one perfectly designed with a highly unique idea that is well worth experiencing.