Release Date: 2012

Developer: Molleindustria

For these new kinds of soldiers, where is the real damage felt?



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This is not your typical war simulator. You’re not a gritty soldier fighting on the ground, instead, you’re the operator of a remote, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  When the war is fought on screen, where is the real damage experienced?

Unmanned was written by Jim Munroe, the “pop culture provocateur” behind No Media Kings and developed by Molleindustria, the Italian game studio who uses games to spark social and political discussion. This partnership marks one of the first times Molleindustria has teamed up with a like-minded entity, and the union has sparked numerous press mentions and various awards (specifically two from the 2012 Games for Change Festival).

Typical of any Molleindustria game, Unmanned seeks to subvert the common threads of popular video games, and specifically those in the war genre. Instead of examining war from the front lines, players are placed in the role of a new type of soldier: one who controls unmanned attack aircraft by day, and by night goes home to a suburban life.  Throughout a few days in this soldier’s life, players learn that the conflict that most grips that soldier is not on the battlefield, but in his mind. The gameplay begs the question, “when you’re so far removed from the battlefield and the damage you cause, how does that damage the other connections in your life?”

Separated in a unique fashion combining visual narrative, simulation, and satirical gameplay, Unmanned’s story unfolds across two separate screens. Players juggle decisions and actions on both screens while earning ironic and often times, subversive “achievements” that reward you from not shedding blood while shaving, rather than rewarding you for the most headshots in a firefight. The gameplay shines a light on the difficulty of decisions a UAV pilot makes, while juggling the complexities of a “normal” life when the day’s work is through.

Ars Technica, Kotaku

Games for Change Award 2012: Best Gameplay
Games for Change Award 2012: Knight News Game 



  1. 8
    Total Game Reviews: 2

    Wow. really opened my eyes into seeing that military life takes it’s toll. in more ways than one. Phew…

  2. 3
    Total Game Reviews: 1

    WAAAAAYYYY to boring.try putting Minecraft on this website,then ill play.look it up!

  3. 10
    Total Game Reviews: 3

    Extremely thoughtful game. I played it through several times just to experience the character more. Very interesting.

  4. 9
    Total Game Reviews: 1

    I liked the numerous (intended?) opportunities to enter an ethics discussion, or to self-identify as ambiguous, by entering the skin of the drone controller – and I did feel as though I had, afforded to me by carefully chosen slice-of-life visions.

    I do wish there was (feasible?) ways to have specialized endings.

  5. 10
    Tom Mowbray
    Total Game Reviews: 30

    Outstanding game for social change. Addresses a difficult and controversial topic in the context of everyday people and families and their personal values decisions.

  6. 1
    Total Game Reviews: 2

    I’ve played some pretty bad games in my time, but this one really takes the cake.

    You start out laying in bed, dreaming. You play a person in the dream, but there’s no stated objective and it’s uncertain what you should do.

    When you wake up, you get to spend time shaving in the mirror, and choosing what your character’s mind should wander on about.

    After that, it’s driving down a blank, featureless road. Once again, choosing what your mind should wander about.

    Then sitting in an aircraft, watching a target, but not engaging. Here you get to choose what kind of small talk you make with your co-pilot.

    Next, you talk on a phone. My god could you possibly *BE* anymore dull!!! Seriously what next? You go shopping and decide what magazines to flip through? Watch grass grow? Stand around and jingle change in your pocket for a while? Oh and of course choose what the person thinks about! Don’t forget that.

    It’s like a character in a movie that spends the whole movie doing the most boring everyday things you can think of, with no plot, and it’s not made any better that you can choose what utterly dull chit chat he has on the phone, or how long it takes him to smoke a cigarette (really, that’s part of the game).

    In later levels, maybe choose how many sips he takes of his coffee or how many times he scratches his leg – of course, while choosing what his thoughts are about an old movie he’s watching. THRILLING!

    Why not put us directly in the combat zone and having us doing something meaningful? Maybe a twist ending after each level, where we start learning more and more about the impact our actions are having. Maybe "kill all the terrorist" – then witness what their families go through afterwards. I’m only assuming this is in line with the intended message of the game, since that message wasn’t made clear after the first several levels.

  7. 5
    Total Game Reviews: 6

    This game has it’s pros, but it isn’t very intuitive. Upon my first playthrough, it took me a few seconds to realize I was supposed to click the logos to even begin. The simultaneous screens and interactivity is nice only after you realize what you are supposed to be doing on both screens. Initially, it is confusing, and I failed a lot on my first attempt because half the time I didn’t even realize I could do something on the other screen. For example, I lost track of the first target because I thought I was supposed to finish the dialogue on the left first, and before I realize it, Jane is yelling at me. When it came to the shooting games with the son, it took me my second playthrough to realize I could click on the son for some additional dialogue. At the singing scene, I didn’t realize I was supposed to choose lyrics, because I never even knew the lyrics or the song. I thought he was simply singing "One Man, One Vision" Overall, fairly negative experience with the first playthrough.

    However, once you realize what you had to do, it was kind of fun and engaging, trying to do two things at once. But it was still ultimately easy. It’s a matter of learning curve and challenge. The learning curve, compared to the challenge, was too high. It just made it so that it was challenging when you didn’t know what to do, and easy once you did. I think a good game should have it still engaging even when you know the rules of a game.

    For the message of the game, I was thoroughly pleased. It was not extremely obvious, nor was it even heavy. It was subtle, but enough to reel you in a little. You don’t really feel it except when sleeping and dreaming (that choice of deep blue was really good for that) while everything else felt kind of normal, but sad. And that was great about it. It was never "OH MY GOD THIS IS HORRIBLE" but more of "This is kind of plain, but still kind of depressing."

    Overall I have to give a 5. Mostly because of gameplay.

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