Last fall, French indie developer Alexandre Spindler posted a video of a “bodycam style” FPS on Twitter (opens in new tab). The eerily photorealistic footage was retweeted over 35,000 times—among those impressed by the clip were filmmaker Neill Blomkamp—but we were left with no other details.
Today, Spindler announced the game properly: It’s called Unrecord, and it’s a “tactical shooter” with “complex dialogues, innovative gameplay mechanics, tough moral dilemmas, and a unique shooting system,” according to its Steam page (opens in new tab). There’s a new trailer embedded above.
Somewhat surprisingly to me, storytelling is emphasized above all. “The player will have to investigate several criminal cases and confront a diverse cast of characters,” reads Unrecord’s official description. “The game’s plot and presentation will be central to the gameplay experience, and players can anticipate a range of gameplay sequences as well as numerous plot twists.” The developer also refers to the story as being similar to “a detective novel or a thriller.”
Of course, the most immediately striking, and for some off-putting, feature of Unrecord is its nearly photorealistic bodycam look. It’s a look that’s generally associated with military and tactical police operations, but also with evidence of military and police brutality and killings, particularly in recent years. Unrecord’s protagonist is a police officer.
One thing that contributes to the impression we’re looking at real bodycam footage is the free movement of the player character’s hands, which is accomplished with an “original aiming system” which allows for “unrestricted hand movements,” according to the developer. Lens distortion and video effects like interlacing, bloom, and pixelated faces—as if the footage has been censored—also contribute to the illusion, and the raw fidelity of the environments underpins the whole thing. And yet, Unrecord isn’t meant to be a realistic simulation, the developer says.
“Unrecord is a narrative game that takes inspiration from realistic FPS games,” reads an FAQ on the game’s official site (opens in new tab). “It could be described as a blend of Firewatch and Ready Or Not. Realism is not an obsession but rather an integral part of the universe, so Unrecord will not be a simulation game.”
Between the reference to recording video in the title—or, erasing it, I guess—and the comment that the “presentation will be central” to the whole experience, there’s reason to believe that we haven’t heard the whole premise of Unrecord’s story yet.
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Studio Drama, which was founded in 2020 by Spindler with musician Théo Hiribarne, only makes a few other comments about Unrecord’s graphics, noting for instance that work is being done on ways to adjust camera movement and effects for players with motion sickness.
On the Steam page, the studio mentions that the bodycam perspective is meant to impart a “trompe l’oeil experience,” which refers to techniques employed by painters (opens in new tab) to create the illusion that 2D images have genuine depth. I’m not sure if Studio Drama meant to imply that Unrecord’s spaces are somehow illusory, or if the idea is just that the video-like effects create the illusion of real footage—I’ve asked them for more information.
Aside from the trailer at the top of this article, Studio Drama released a bunch of screenshots, which you can see in the slideshow above. Unrecord doesn’t have a release date yet.
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