Unsighted combines entertaining and thoughtful combat and captivating exploration with a diabolical premise. As Alma, you are a humanoid automaton who wakes up with amnesia and faces two problems. First, your partner Raquel is missing. Second, the world has lost its Anima, the energy source that gives automatons emotion and free will. When a vending machine runs out of Anima, it turns into an Unsighted, a mindless monster. Alma’s action-adventure romp becomes a real race against time to save as many friends as possible from this fate.
I love that Unsighted’s unique premise isn’t a bluff. You and everyone you meet have a timer, visible in conversations and measured by in-game hours, that tells you how long they have before they turn into monsters. Friends, shopkeepers, detectives, your fairytale sidekick. No one is exempt – including yourself. If someone becomes Unsighted, you’ll have to put them down, meaning you’ll miss sidequests or, if it’s a seller, the option to buy certain goods. A animal house-style “where are they now?” ending shows what happens to the people you save and offers plenty of good reasons to replay the adventure.
This genuine commitment kept me engaged throughout the journey as I tried to save everyone I could, making me question my actions in ways I normally wouldn’t. Do I spend precious minutes solving an optional prize puzzle or hunt for scarce, time-consuming Meteor Dust to keep someone from turning? This system can be stressful, but time doesn’t fly too fast and, for the most part, offers room to explore in comfort. Unsighted further relieves the pressure in other creative ways. For example, if you lose a seller, you can craft goods instead and maybe save Meteor Dust for someone else. There’s even a character that can kill an NPC of your choice and add their time remaining to yours. This option poses an interesting moral dilemma, but I’ve used her services twice and always felt gross but relieved.
Unsighted does a great job of covering its base in case everyone gets wiped out, and while selfish players can get by making everyone suffer, I found compelling reasons to keep characters around. Meteor Dust also increases NPC’s Affection Level, which rewards discounts on valuable gear or opens side missions that you discover while talking to people about their backstories. I fought tooth and nail to keep Iris, Alma’s fairytale companion, around long enough to learn the fate of her missing sister. I felt really bad when someone turned around, either because I lost easily accessible items or because I started to appreciate their colorful personalities.
To save the world, you must collect five meteor shards scattered across interconnected, multi-level biomes, each guarded by a big boss. Unsighted’s slick combat allows players to use dual-wield combinations of melee weapons and firearms. The action feels great and requires a thoughtful approach thanks to a stamina meter and a satisfying parry, which stuns enemies for devastating counter attacks. I loved fending off multiple incoming attacks, then stunned attackers with one shot. Pistols, shotguns, and even flamethrowers have an active reload feature for added excitement, but it’s a little tricky to capture that timing. The wide variety of enemies and creative bosses is tough, but balances between challenging and fun.
I liked tinkering with Alma’s abilities using skill-granting chips, which let you create specific builds and ignore more limiting elements. For example, I found a chip that eliminated the stamina cost of running. Cogs compliment chips with temporary effects such as an instant revival or limited invulnerability. Platforming feels great and is smoother than I expected in a top-down game, but judging distances and angles during certain jumps is tricky given the perspective. Falling won’t harm Alma, but it’s still annoying. As a whole, however, Unsighted plays like a dream.
I had a great time exploring the beautiful world of pixel art and discovering hidden upgrades and shortcuts. Dungeons have an exceptional design and a lot of variety, each with its own theme around fun items like a grappling hook or ice grenade. Marching through a lava-filled factory in a mecha suit is as entertaining as surfing railroad networks atop a giant, Beyblade-esque spinning top. The puzzles are generally well designed, although the running back and forth required to complete some of them is tedious and clearly designed to force you to burn time. Like the best Metroid-style games, progression-based skills serve more purposes than opening paths. I loved using the grappling hook to pull enemies towards me, as much as I did to zip over holes.
Unsighted grabbed me thanks to its fascinating world, great combat and a doomsday clock that enriches the adventure. It’s one of my favorite surprises of the year because my actions have had a real impact on the world, and they didn’t always go the way I hoped. Although I lost friends along the way, my desire to see this extraordinary adventure come to an end grew with each hour that passed.