Unmanned beautifully illuminates the divide that we create between ourselves and the systems in which we live.
Unmanned begins with an immediate divide: on the left, the game’s title screen, and on the right, a man standing in an empty field, mouth agape. The latest game from Molleindustria, released earlier this year, is just as political and subversive as any of the studio’s previous work. While the game’s central metaphor may seem blunt at first, its sublety surpasses much of Molleindustria’s previous work. Self-proclaimed creators of “homeopathic remedies to the idiocy of mainstream entertainment”, Molleindustria has firmly established itself as a purveyor of critical games. While Phone Story might be their most famed work, Unmanned might be the best from the studio.
Playing Unmanned is an exercise in splitting one’s attention. The game follows Kirk, a military drone pilot over two days as he runs through the tedium of his life. In the first moments of the game, the left title screen fades to a shot of Kirk sleeping. The right, then. is his dreamscape. An arabic man chases him through a field, followed by a woman in a burqa, and a child. If players manage to avoid the family, Kirk spreads his arms and turns into a drone, just before waking. Only in dreams are the player’s points of interest isolated to just one screen.