Unforgivable: Eliza from Toii is an augmented reality (AR) detective game steeped in Taiwan's murkier recent history and is available for both Android and iOS. The game was played on an Android device for this article.
The story follows NYPD Detective Danny Lin as he searches for the truth behind his grandfather's murder.
Getting to know you
The game needs to know where you are for the location-based gameplay to work along with the camera for background images.
The AR/GPS features exist for the following cities:
- New York
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- Hong Kong
While the game's story takes place in different cities, the locations/hot spots within each in-game city are keyed to similar locations. For example the precinct Danny works at in New York is represented in Seattle by the actual location of the Seattle Police Department HQ.
And a hotel he stays at in Taipei is represented by the landmark Smith Tower (although it's not a hotel).
Another AR feature uses the phone's camera to display a background against the current scene.
The AR toggle in the upper-left hand corner switches to a game-appropriate background if you're not actually traveling the streets.
Get your TIX
What if you're not near any of the pre-set cities or can't move about? The game uses "TIX" as a shortcut mechanism:
You start the game with three TIX and earn or acquire additional TIX one of three ways.
1) Complete missions - Some grant TIX as a reward
2a) Exchange coins for TIX - coins can either be earned as mission rewards
2a) Or via in-app purchase - This is the only use of real money and is an optional component
3) Walk! The exchange rate is rather low but shaking the phone is enough to increase the counter. Or so I've heard.
Gameplay consists of traveling to locations on the world map either in-person or by TIX and engaging in conversations with other characters to advance the plot.
There are also occasional decision points that branch the plot
Investigating a mysterious murder is a hazardous pursuit so don't be surprised to encounter an event that will ruin your day/life
If a bad ending is encountered the game rewinds to a point before the wrong decision was made but coins and TIX are not restored. There's no save/restore function but it's possible to reset the game.
For completionists there are five different endings to discover.
To Forgive and Forget?
Taiwanese culture and history are woven into the gameplay and story. For example Danny visits the Shilin Night Market and eats a fried chicken fillet.
While it's not reasonably possible to complete the game without buying coins (indie game development is tough!) or lots of walking the mere existence of an English-language game using the echos of the White Terror-era as it's central theme is a substantial accomplishment and Toii is to be commended. Old hands will enjoy catching all of the references and those not familiar with Taiwan will receive a healthy dose of knowledge.