Video Game / Unrest

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/unrest.jpg
Unrest is an adventure game, somewhere between Interactive Fiction and a Roleplaying Game.

The action takes place in a vaguely ancient Indian nation called Bhimra with the only obvious fantasy element being the Naga Empire beyond the borders. Bhimra is in a period of civil unrest - a drought-borne famine is going on, a hate-preacher is telling the unwashed masses how everything is the nagas' fault, the royal family is preparing to make a rather unpopular treaty and the slums are almost at the boiling point.

Which side are you on? Everyone's. You successively play scenes in the lives of all kinds of people - the royal princess, the naga ambassador, a peasant girl, a priest and a mercenary captain. The gameplay consists mostly of running around and talking to people, making decisions and then experiencing their consequences, which can and probably will lead to the deaths of some of your characters. Combat takes a back-seat - there is a basic (and rather deadly) combat system, but it's quite likely that you will never even see it. The greater danger lies in the conversations: Everyone has an agenda that they will push, with conversations taking on an entirely new context depending on what additional information you have. The guy who offers you a bodyguard - is he concerned for your safety or is he trying to set up his men in a position where they can easily assassinate you? Is the woman begging for medicine actually sick or does she just want to sell it on the black market?

Beware unmarked spoilers.

Examples:

  • Aborted Arc: Some decisions look like they're going to matter, but may never see a resolution.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The game has five playable characters and repeatedly jumps between them. They actually never meet each other, but their actions can be felt in the different parts of the story.
  • Crapsack World: Oh, boy. The parts of the world we know about are a Deadly Decadent Court, a Wretched Hive, an uptown that doesn't care about said hive unless it's near rioting, a rural area ruled by an iron-fisted despot and a foreign empire that just might invade if it can be bothered.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: While the initial court doesn't appear to be that large, it at least managed to spawn the vizier who has the royal family assassinated and instigates a ruling council with conflicting interests as well.
  • The Empire: The Naga Empire. How evil they are is up for debate - Ranveer considers naga to be utterly vile creatures while more levelheaded characters approach them more openly and the trade treaty, though despised by the populace, is one of the last lifelines of Bhimra. The ending may reveal that the Empire is at least contemplating an invasion of Bhimra.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Not all that fantastic, considering the game more or less takes place in ancient India. Known castes are peasants, artisans, merchants, warriors, priests and nobles.
    • The Naga Empire averts this and has much more social mobility in theory - in practice, though, it is not without its own problems since the Empire suffers from overpopulation and its citizens have a high life expectancy by now - thus, when someone skilled takes a post, the post doesn't become vacant for quite some time. This is actually one of the reasons some naga emigrated to Bhimra, creating new opportunities for themselves to rise in station.
  • Fantastic Racism: The lower classes don't particularly like the naga, especially the ones also living in the slum. Apart from more mystical "They are eeeevil!" reasons, it has a simple practical one as well: A single naga eats as much food as a human family. Not the best neighbours to have during a famine.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Asha may become this, depending on how she treats those who stand with or against her.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: The vizier's feelings on having the royal family assassinated and usurping power. Possibly, at least - as with almost all figures' motivations, it's left somewhat ambiguous, but at least this is the motivation he professes towards the mercenary captain who he has little reason to lie to.
  • Relationship Values: A character's relation towards you is characterized by their friendliness, their respect and their fear.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Entirely possible with the mercenaries, both on a personal scale if you give them orders they don't like and for the entire company if you decide to leave the city hanging.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Pretty cynical. It's generally possible to play your characters as decent human beings, but being too naive and taking other characters at face value is a death sentence.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The instigators of the riots know full well that they won't be able to control them.
  • Wretched Hive: Bhimra's slums are a shining example. Plague and hunger run rampant and don't exactly bring out the best in humanity. Almost every faction is in agreement that the best one can do with the slums is to keep them contained, throwing in a few morsels so they don't riot. It doesn't work.
    • The situation is exacerbated since almost every faction tries to control what goes on in the slums without actually caring for the people there. Ranveer the preacher is about the only one who wants anything to do with them and even with him it's extremely ambiguous if he's actually giving them a voice or just using them for his own ends.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/Unrest