Jul 12 • 4M

Unavowed (2021)

Bring the vibe

 
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Sasha talks about her middle-aged bewilderment from a QTPOC perspective. And video games, kind of
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Unavowed 
By Wadjet Eye Games
Released on Nintendo Switch in July 2021

I got Covid on my honeymoon last month, maybe during our layover in Dallas, where Jess and I de-masked to eat fish and chips at a restaurant in the center of the terminal. We were hangry and a little spooked to be in Texas, where it’s been open season on trans kids and reproductive rights. I don’t know. How palpable is that shit in somewhere as transient as an airport? Maybe we coastal elitists or whatever brought the vibe. No one seemed to give a fuck when we held hands, but it still felt weird and scary, as it always does. Alas. After eating, we re-masked, boarded our connecting flight, and finished our trip. 

I felt sick the next day. The day after that, I tested positive. It was jarring, seeing that red line appear so boldly, so immediately on the test strip. I laughed, because what else was there to do? I thought about the millions dead worldwide, the way the pandemic has been used as a political cudgel, how we’ve all collectively thrown caution to the wind in the name of convenience and some imagined normalcy. I wondered how many people I may have infected along the way. I worried about our trip being ruined.

Jess got sick too, of course, her symptoms a day behind mine. Despite our misery, we somehow managed to have a lovely week of desert drives, socially distanced hikes, and falling asleep to podcasts. We soaked in the hot tub and looked at the stars. We sucked down ice pops to stay hydrated. 

Unavowed got me through a lot of our downtime. My body aches and congestion kept me awake while my fatigue incapacitated me. I needed distraction. I needed something both fresh and familiar. 

Like many other point-and-click games I’ve played in recent years, Unavowed hews closely to the LucasArts template: quippy dialogue, obscure lateral thinking puzzles, and a series of discrete environments, each with its own secret to unlock. There’s comfort in that formula. I was mostly friendless during my tween years; I found solace in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and the Monkey Island series. I sat in front of the family computer and went on adventures.

What I’m saying is that I liked this game, whose violence and adult language felt both surprising and necessary, whose multiple characters invited multiple playthroughs, whose meaningful diversity was only somewhat undercut by the gross orientalism and copaganda. I stuck around for the end credits and saw that the voice casting was largely race-appropriate. People of color got paid. They were heard. 

I finished Unavowed in a Palm Springs Motel 6, while Jess and I quarantined for as long as we could afford before our rescheduled flight home. I got what was probably the bad ending, which left me feeling bad. I have fucking Covid. Give me something better. Save-scumming my way back to the climactic scene, I altered my choices and got a mixed success, an ending that offered me an uncertain future, rife with compromise and sacrifice. That was good enough. I put down the Switch and took some cold medicine with water from the bathroom sink. Jess dozed in bed. I got under the covers and joined her. We slept the rest of the day and through the night.