Unheard – Voices of Crime is a detective game with a difference. You are playing as a participant in an experiment. A new human/computer interface has been named the A.S.D. (Acoustic Detective System) needs testing, and you are the detective for the job. Using this new system, you can step into the past to hear audio and see a crime’s layout.
By picking up a tablet on the table in front of you, you can access a top-down view of a floor plan/blueprint of the location of a crime. Each character is represented by a circle, apart from you. You are like a little Google Maps man who can investigate. Your objective is to determine who is who, correctly label them, and solve the crime.
Unheard’s Narrative and Voice Acting Are Incredible
Of course, quality voice acting and narrative are essential in a game like this. Both are done with aplomb and confidence. I’m reasonably sure the game is voiced entirely by the cast of the brilliant horror fiction podcast No Sleep. I’ve been listening to the podcast for years and immediately recognized them. As for the narrative, the puzzles and dialogue are interesting. The game’s eavesdropping mechanic makes it feel extremely fresh, too.
In between cases, you are sitting at a desk with a woman in front of you. Her face is entirely in shadow, and there’s no way for you to know her identity. There are no context clues; she is just administering the test to see how suited you are for the real cases that need solving. She offers little snippets of advice and the occasional poke about the larger purpose of the test.
There’s more happening here than just testing a new system. Initially, the cases seem relatively obscure and unrelated, but some overlap becomes apparent as you progress. Some names are recurring, appearing again in different supposedly separate situations. At one point, the administrator between cases remarks on the coincidences but quickly pretends she didn’t say anything.
You work through a bombing at a police station, an art heist, a murder on stage, and a strange situation unfolding at a mental health institution. The main game takes around four to five hours to complete, but the Voices of Crime edition also features a new DLC that adds about two hours to the playtime. This isn’t much in terms of length. Regardless, it’s a game I will play again because of how enjoyable it was.
I Wish There Were More, But You Better Believe I’ll Play Through Unheard Again
The sound design is excellent. The reverb and indistinct whispering add a layer of unreality to the proceedings between cases, making it clear something isn’t quite right. On the other side of that, and equally adding to my enjoyment, was the incredibly melodramatic acting.
The sentence “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” is uttered in one of the investigations, and I laughed for five minutes. No one has said that since the 1960s, and I love it. There’s a variety of entirely over-the-top accents on display from multiple characters. Of course, this is intentional and necessary to help players distinguish between characters. It doesn’t make it any less funny, and it is genuinely not a bad thing.
You have to make the audio exciting and engaging when working with an almost entirely audio-based experience with minimal visuals, especially if the basis of the game is learning and retaining information to make deductions.
This does bring me to my only slight issue with the game as a whole. There are no subtitles. If subtitles are an option, I always turn them on. As a neurodivergent person, I find it difficult to listen without reading when there’s a game involved.
I know this sounds insane, but many other ADHD/Autistic people I have interacted with share the same trait. My brain needs to do 400 things at once, or it can’t process all of them. Am I playing a game with no voice acting? You better believe I’m watching a movie or listening to a podcast during my gaming session.
I have genuinely read books while listening to another audiobook or podcast, although that’s usually reserved for a special kind of hyperactive brain day. Many neurodivergent people have auditory processing issues, so subtitles are a big help in many cases.
Apart from wanting it to be longer, the lack of subtitles is my only real issue with Unheard – Voices of Crime. It was engaging, fun, utilized a unique mechanic, and had interesting puzzles to solve. I’d happily replay it, and I hope there will be a sequel in the future.
The publisher provided a review code for this game.