Dev Spotlight | Unknown Number Q&A with Thomas Keane

Unknown Number is a voice controlled puzzle adventure game that Godolphin Games is calling the world’s first ‘First-Person Talker’.

Recently, the upcoming title ‘Unknown Number’ was selected for ‘Narrative Excellence’ at the London Game Festival, so we decided to reach out to Godolphin Games, developers of this upcoming and fascinating thriller, about their title, and what players should expect.

Unknown Number is a voice controlled puzzle adventure game that Godolphin Games is calling the world’s first ‘First-Person Talker’. Unknown Number combines cutting edge voice recognition technology with a high-tension thriller story told entirely through phone calls, and is coming in Q2 of 2022. The game will combine elements from puzzle-adventure titles and AR games to create a high-octane gameplay experience. An official description reads; ‘Make your voice heard as you talk, sing, whisper and shout your way through the captivating narrative, and interact with a plethora of morally complex characters.’

Unknown Number Indie Game Fans

We spoke with Thomas Keane, Creative Director on the title, about the current feelings of the dev team and what players should expect, it’s an enlightening conversation you can find here;

Josh: How are you feeling about the recent selection at LGF? It’s sure to get plenty of new eyes on the game, what are your thoughts?

Keane: It’s super exciting to be part of the Official Selection at LGF. Plus “Narrative Excellence” was very much the category we were hoping for – since the ambition for Unknown Number was always to tell a story in a totally new way.

But beyond the excitement, there is also a massive sense of relief. Making a game is scary for any small indie team. But it gets a whole lot scarier when you’re exploring a totally new type of gameplay – because you have literally no idea how people are going to respond. Especially given the number of industry people who, in the early days of development, told us: “Cool concept dudes, but no-one will actually want to play it.”

This sort of recognition proves that we were onto something after all – and that a bunch of people are as excited about Unknown Number as we are. I’m just glad we stuck with the project in those early days.

This is an exciting time during the development cycle, but also one fraught with worries, it’s always good to have something like this happen that tells you ‘yeah, this works’.

Josh:  Other than that, how has the reception of the game been so far? The game is meant to come out later this year, so how is everything looking? 

Keane: We’re getting great reception from the press, as well as being selected for a bunch of festivals. We always hoped to cause a bit of a PR stir – I mean, how many ‘voice-controlled thrillers’ are out there? – so things are going well in that sense. The task now is to make sure that this translates into attracting a community of real-life players haha.

In terms of launch date, we’re currently looking at dates at the end of June – but that’s not confirmed quite yet. The game is very near completion, but that final 10% of polish can make all the difference between a fun game and a frustrating game. So we’ll take the time it needs to get it right!

Unknown Number Indie Game Fans
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If those date estimates are true, then it’s not too long to wait now until we have our hands on the game!

Josh: If you could sum up the game in two or three sentences, what would those be?

Keane: Unknown Number is a voice-controlled thriller – told through a series of interactive phone calls.

It explores the full power of voice as a core gameplay mechanic. With many of our puzzles, it’s not only the words you speak that matter – it’s also the way you say them. Whether that’s shouted, whispered, or even sung.

Visually, it’s a mixture between phone sim (such as a “A Normal Lost Phone”), and FMV adventure (such as “Her Story). But, of course, it’s the voice-commands that really supercharge that combination, and make Unknown Number such a unique gameplay experience.

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It really does sound like quite the unique experience, the concept makes me think of a non-vr version of the old Daydream VR game ‘Untethered’, which sadly never got finished (until Area Man Lives releases).

Josh: Can you give us any info on what the story is going to be about, what can we expect from the plot?

Keane: A simple mis-dial throws you into the midst of a daring heist – taking place on an abandoned oil rig in the middle of the North Sea.

You’re helping two eco-warriors steal $7b from the world’s most powerful oil baron – to use in the fight against climate change.

It’s your job to help these eco-warriors break into seven heavily guarded vaults – by ringing the special security numbers that can unlock the doors. With each new phone number, you encounter a new puzzle that forces you to piece together clues scattered across the rig.

But beyond all this high-level drama, there is also a very personal drama of your relationship with the two eco-warriors – Ethan and Amanda. How far can you trust these two? How far can they trust each other? It’s a question that gets increasingly complicated as events unfold.

We cannot wait to dive into this plot, it sounds like there’ll be some really interesting moments and story beats.

Josh: What would you say the biggest inspirations on the game are, these can be other games, films, music, things that happened in life; what went into this idea?

Keane: The idea came from a couple of different places.

Firstly, it came from the realisation that Voice-control is increasingly becoming a primary method for interacting with technology – and yet was still largely unexplored within the world of games.

With Unknown Number, we wanted to create a game that fully explored voice as a core gameplay mechanic. And what better starting point than a mysterious phone call… a phone call that you have to – shock horror – actually talk back to.

Secondly, it came from my previous experience with ARGs from the early 2010s, and the belief that there must be a way to re-invigorate the format for the present-day. The concept of voice-controlled, interactive ‘telephone calls’ felt like a real unlock from that perspective.

As someone who got really caught up in the likes of Marble Hornets and This House Has People In It back in the day, this prospect makes me very excited.

Josh: What are you most excited for players to see as people begin to dive into the game?

Keane: It’s so exciting to see a game that started in your head end up in people’s hands. But one of the things I can’t wait for players to do is meet Ethan and Amanda – the two eco-warriors at the end of the phone line.

During development, I’ve spent so many hours with their voices that they’ve started to feel like real-life friends of mine at this point. Our hope is that people feel exactly the same way when they play Unknown Number. After all, how many other video game characters can you actually speak to? That’s a pretty intimate thing!

Intimacy is important with a game like this, making a personal connection with the characters is essential, and we can’t wait to get to know them.

Josh: Finally, where’s the best place for people to keep track of updates on the game’s development? 

Keane: The best place for people to keep track of the game’s development is the @godolphin_games Twitter account. We also have a Discord server, but that’s mostly press at this stage.

And that’s all! This was a fascinating and informative conversation and it’s driven our excitement for the title straight up! You can wishlist the game right now on Steam, and (as Thomas said) follow the twitter and join the discord for development updates!