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A Place for the Unwilling

A branching narrative adventure set in the final 21 days of a dying city. Every decision you make will shape your surroundings, and the city’s fate. However, the clock is ticking - and the city carries on, with or without you. Speak to everyone from eerie politicians to chain-smoking child anarchists. Work as a trader, socialise, explore the town freely, and play a role in the city’s hierarchy. Combining the exquisite narrative depth and exploration of Sunless Sea with the curious setup of Majora’s Mask - plus a dash of Lovecraft - A Place for the Unwilling is a rich narrative experience where player choices really do count, set in a Dickensian world of colour and Eldritch nightmares. The city is hungry. It will devour us all. Dream with caution.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

An open-world narrative game that focuses on time-based events, exploration, dialogue choices and trading. Oddly enough this game reminds me of Elder Scrolls if you would remove all combat and RPG elements from it, leaving just the dialogue-based gameplay where you have to utilize the clock to visit certain locations, not to mention the fast-travel. Essentially you can explore this huge city where you can find different establishments and characters, doing side quests and making new friends. I have barely scratched the surface of this game after a couple of hours, it has plenty of things to do. Even though the cutscenes did not look very good, I think the art style is definitely the selling point of this title. The quality of the writing is all over the place; some parts feel atmospheric and immersive, while others took me out of the experience (somehow cursing feels out of place here). The detail in the environment easily absorbed me into the universe, making it fun to interact with many objects that expand the lore. I like how the game allows you to expand text-related notes so you can see them, although you can't do it everywhere. In general, the UI has a really nice aesthetic and I find it rather intuitive, for the most part. While the text games are not for everyone, this game is massive and has a lot to offer, if you can deal with occasional glitches.
I want to briefly touch on the 'time-system' as it seems to be a big concern for a lot of the potential buyers. To put it simply, you have a limited time during the day to visit characters because the stores operate from 10am to 7pm (additionally to unique events that have a specific time frame). In other words, you can't complete everything during one playthrough, you have to pick about 3-5 individuals and focus on them. Also, you have to make money for certain quests lines so you are constantly on a move. The dev said something about "not putting pressure on the player", but in my experience, if you not doing things proactively you not going to get anywhere - there is definitely a monkey on your back telling you to maximize your efforts (unless you don't want to finish any quest lines). To be fair, I think the system is implemented well and it makes the game feel different, it just depends if you have patience and time to make multiple playthroughs. Now the game does not move when you are in menus or reading, only when moving around. You have access to fast-travel checkpoints when you discover them, but they do cost a bit of money to use.
Pros:
+ extensive story branching, many hard decisions
+ a lot of content, high replay value
+ beautiful world design, really nice atmosphere
+ engaging narrative and fun characters, for the most part
+ achievements
Cons:
Convoluted Progression - Some of the quests in the game are very vague and don't tell you where to go. It's not always clear if you are about to make an important choice. The worst part is that you might be aiming for a specific goal for 5 hours, only to find out that you had to do some random thing to complete it, but you had no way of knowing it until you already made a mistake.
Bugs & Navigation - The game is still a bit glitchy. I run into all kinds of small problems, ranging from map issues to walking out of boundaries. Interacting with items can be a little hard as you have to angle yourself in a precise way. Also, the game lacks certain important features, such as not placing points of interest on the map (not all of them anyway).
Overall Thoughts: 8/10
I can't say that I ever played a game that was exactly like it (it sort of puts the open-world aspect of RPG games into a visual novel), so I think it earns some points for giving me a fresh experience. It does a good job of making you feel like you are a part of the community by allowing you to participate in many city events. I like how you can get very wealthy and start doing city projects, I think it even changes the appearance of the scenery. Really cool game if you ask me, far from being perfect, but I like the originality.
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Review from Steam

Solid exploratory adventure with deep, lyrical writing and time constraints.
The game’s aesthetics is absolutely delicious in its dark simplicity of the features, but lots of moving elements. It has the “cartoon Lovecraft” feel to it and the city streets simply beg to explore every nook and cranny. With all that beauty around, the controls are what dampens the overall fantastic first expression. Intuitive they are not. There is a mix of WASD and arrows involved, where every letter is not what you learned it to be from hundreds of previous games played… S acts like an “Enter” for example, and quite frequently you’d have to resort to “W – Arrow down – E” combinations which will result in lost money and/or some frustration. Since interaction of a character starts from him/her being turned to an object or a person in order to highlight them first, it’s also easy to imagine some annoying moments when you trying to angle your character just right. Perhaps, the only thing I’d want to lodge a complaint about.
The gameplay largely consists of exploration of the city, with lots of socializing trying to understand what the hell is going on while the relentless clock is ticking away. The story unveils itself little by little with each day by way of small missions (go around and collect some money from debtors, help friend at the store, find certain statues in the city etc.) and through many political and social events you may easily miss out on, if you don’t happen to be in the right place at the right time. There’s also some trading involved. Since you’re a merchant you can buy and sell goods between 5 suppliers within the city, making some money. It’s not imperative to finishing the game, but many quests will involve you forking over some dollars to help a friend or a stranger; of course, you can choose to simply skip those. Trading didn’t do much for me (it’s very basic “buy – sell” system with a short list of goods which all stores carry), but it might be a very appealing addition to some.
Another highlight of the game is writing. Dialogues are plentiful here, ranging from talking to a potty-mouthed unionists and police officers to very complex (and quite often confusing) ones by, say, Henry’s widow or Lucas, the bookstore owner. Every character has a specific way with words and expressions, so if socializing is your thing – you’ll be reading a lot of well-written, if somewhat cryptic material. Again, not strictly necessary to finish the game, but sure is good option to have. There is no voice acting (UNFORTUNATELY – it would have been especially awesome in a game with so many quirky personalities), just occasional music and plenty of sound effects, both are very decent, but I’d prefer much more of some menacing tunes to build up the mood.
Two things that I’d also liked to be more of –
1. Atmosphere (It has the right tone, but it never quite gives you that unsettling sensation. The underlying sinister feeling that is barely scratching the surface here could have been greatly expanded and go full-blown slow dread, but it never gets there. You end up an observer instead of a participant.)
2. Stuff to explore. With how magnificent the streets are drawn with its smoking chimneys, dark alleyways, little hatches in stores and falling apart Victorian looking buildings, I would have loved to have secrets upon secrets to find. Another house open? Another door that you can get into? What’s with this overgrown garden – does hold a mystery? Can you get into this broken window? Oh, how I wish I could have done that in “The Place for the Unwilling”, but aside the places you meant to go, even optionally, it is largely just a pretty picture.
It’s a strong, solid effort for the lovers of exploration and “WTF is going on in this place” mysteries that get more confusing and complicated as the game progresses. I find $15 to be a bit too steep of a price for the title, especially considering some bugs and glitches that occasionally pop-up (devs are actively working on fixing them), but it’s still good entertainment where trying to untangle mystery of Henry’s suicide will keep you playing “just one more day”.

Review from Steam

Slow burns seem like a particularly tough sell in the gaming world. Most people sit down with a game for instant gratification, pure action, or a gripping narrative. It takes something special to get someone to invest in a long build-up, which might be why you don’t see many of them around here. A Place for the Unwilling is certainly different, in the strange city of shadows and your position as a bold little merchant. But where most slow burns build to a big reveal, this title continues to smolder all the way to the very end. It’s unique not just in its structure but its permanently lethargic pace, and the difficulty in even finding the full scope of the mystery.
Your childhood friend, Henry Allen, is dead by his own hand. Despite the time and distance separating you, he has left his trading business and worldly possessions in your care. All he asks in his parting missive is for you to look after his widow and his mother. To settle these affairs you move to the city, a sprawling Victorian metropolis wreathed in fog, and continue the business in his stead. The many merchants and officials of the city offer their welcome but all is not well here, as the tensions between the rich and poor, capital and labor, are coming to a head. Your actions will impact the lives of those you meet in dramatic ways, and have the potential to shift the balance of power between classes. But behind all the deals and negotiations, the question remains… why did your friend end his life?
You may have noticed a few interesting points on the store page for A Place for the Unwilling, such as the “Lovecraftian” tag, or the clearly-stated fact that the city will die in 21 days. And you may be wondering why I didn’t mention those in my synopsis of the game just now. That’s because for a remarkable stretch of the game, easily six to eight hours, you won’t detect a hint of anything eldritch or supernatural. You begin as a newcomer to the city, with your main concern being trading and socializing. The whole of the three districts are laid open to you, and you’re free to wander, talk to the many residents, and attempt to buy low and sell high from the shops. Every morning you’ll receive notes from some of the citizens, asking you to visit them, and you’ll have to spend your limited time each day deciding who to meet, who to help, and what to do around the city.
The game proceeds like this, as a sort of low-key trading adventure, for the entire first week. You’ll learn more about the city and the people that you talk to, and there are some definite quirks about the place you’ll probably catch, but mostly you’ll be making friends and money. This doesn’t really change much over the following two weeks, either, but the tone and implications of it all will shift. The second week brings with it much grimmer intrigue to follow, and a clear sign that something unnatural is happening in the city. By the third week there’s a chance that you’ll have discovered the secret behind it all, but rather than being some seismic shift or dawning revelation, it just means you’ll be spending those last few days preparing for the end. That’s the slow, persistent burn of the game, how it gives you hours and hours of simply slipping into the fabric of the city to learn its ins and outs, and instead of building to anything it slips its secrets back to you and waits to see what you do with them.
Whether this is a good thing or bad thing is entirely up to the player, really. A Place for the Unwilling is a giant mystery with no parlor scene, and no guarantee you’ll even uncover it all the first time. Revealing the secrets of the city requires befriending the right people and helping them with their tasks, which can prove difficult on a number of levels. Sometimes the tasks require actual moral choices, like neglecting the poor to please an influential businessman, or siding with citizens against the police at the risk of harm to yourself. Other times the task itself will be unclear, due to some sloppy writing or scripting oddities with the events. And sometimes things will simply take longer than you think, meaning you’ll miss resolving a quest because you returned ten minutes past 7 PM and the shop is closed.
This is a tough game for perfectionists or completionists, because you won’t have time to do everything you might want to do, and some of the requirements are quite strict. You also won’t know how certain things work sometimes, particularly when quests are vague about where you should meet someone or who you should talk to for assistance. There are no second chances either, with some tasks only doable on the same day you receive them, regardless of whether that’s first thing in the morning or ten minutes before everything in the city closes. And that’s assuming no bugs impact your work, like dialogues playing out of sequence or your character getting stuck on walls or debris. I never had any game-ending issues but I came close on the next-to-last day, when I broke the area transitions somehow and couldn’t leave a particular street.
Ultimately, it’s safe to say that A Place for the Unwilling will nothing like what you’re expecting. As a slow, unforgiving, obtuse, and occasionally buggy adventure, more than a little patience is required to get much out of it. And on days when no one is giving out tasks for whatever reason, or you receive one of ten endings that explains virtually nothing about the city’s true nature, you might be wondering what you’re doing here. But that’s also the beauty of it, that there’s nothing else quite like it out there. No other game lets you trade goods and foment popular rebellion on the streets of a city not quite moored in reality, or befriend the strange figures who laugh and share with you even as their doom approaches. Even after spending a dozen hours on a single playthrough and finding very little resolution, I’m far more curious than frustrated. So if you see me wandering the streets of the nameless city once again, you might see why I regard this little gem so highly.
Did you enjoy this review? I certainly hope so, and I certainly hope you'll check out more of them at

Review from Steam

Alright I've got a lot to say but many people don't want to read a whole long piece, so I'll put a summary here first
Pros:
-Fantastic story, world, lore, and dialogue
-Open play style that let players do basically whatever they want
-Story reacts to player choices in a really impressive number of ways
Cons:
-Developers are new to the business, so there's some typos and a weird control scheme
-The open world almost has too many choices, making some players feel like they don't know what to do.
I say buy it, that's the short version. Now for the long version:
In A Place for the Unwilling, players are a new arrival in “the city.” The only thing that is explained about either the protagonist or the city is the one thing the two have in common: Henry Allen. Henry is a childhood friend and resident of the city who has sadly taken his own life. In his final letter, he left his house and shipping business to the player, imploring them to look after his loved ones and learn the mysteries of the city before it dies in 21 days. Thrust into a strange and dangerous environment, the player has to decide how best to look after themselves and their interests as doom approaches.
The most impressive thing about A Place for the Unwilling is its central mechanic: choice. In the city, there is nothing the player absolutely must do. Often at the beginning of a day, players will receive one or more suggestions for daily activities in the form of letters from fellow citizens, but these can all be ignored. Players are free to go where they please, talk with whoever they please, and do business as they please. There’s even the option to leave town if the stress ever gets to be too much, though in a far less permanent way than Henry left. The only limit to players is time, because once midnight rolls around, players are forced home, but a fascinating layer of strategy is applied to this system, because players can choose to go to bed earlier to get up earlier in the morning. This means if a player knows they have a big day of business tomorrow, they can hit the hay early, or can choose to stay out late exploring the town after dark if they know tomorrow doesn’t have much going on. Because the player has so many choices, the story can go in a lot of different directions. If I’m interpreting the Endings menu correctly, there’s 10 different endings, which is an incredible feat for any game, let alone a $15 indie made by six developers.
The second best thing about this game, and let me be clear it’s a very close second, is the story, and when I say “story” I mean both the over-arching plot as well as the small side-quests and conversations. The main plot is the city and its approaching death. The game doesn’t explain how a city can die until the last couple of days, and I suspect the way it dies is changed by the player’s choices, but in the meantime players follow the trail of a shadowy cabal controlling the future of the city and Lovecraftian monsters from beyond the stars. If there’s one problem I have with the game’s story it’s that they felt they had to lean on Lovecraftian lore. I get that Cthulhu and The King in Yellow are reliable cultural touchstones, but the lore created for this game of colors and power was fascinating and I would have liked to have seen more of it. As for the smaller stories, I was really impressed with how well game gives depth and realism to the other citizens of the city through small conversations. When you stop and chat, you can learn about a character’s family or past and these conversations are written fantastically.
Unfortunately, I don’t have only positive things to say about A Place for the Unwilling, but I do think most of the flaws can be attributed to one of two things: the developers’ relative inexperience in the game development field and the fact that this game wasn’t originally in English. There were more than a handful of times where, in a conversation with another character, I would see the other character’s dialogue come from my character or bit of code that was supposed to have put a character’s name in bold, but a part was forgotten so I saw the name surrounded by incomplete coding jargon. Other times, I was given conversation choices or had choices attributed to me that I hadn’t earned or done. Reading the developer’s website, I think it’s safe to say that none of them have worked on a project of this size before so it’s easy for me to forgive these little slip ups. The game also features an odd control scheme when playing with a keyboard. It definitely feels like the developers had an idea how the game would be controlled with a controller or gamepad and then forced that onto a keyboard as well. With the arrow keys controlling the player, WASD serves as an awkward replication of controller face buttons with S serving as the “confirm” key and D as the “cancel/deny” button. It’s not a huge problem, but it’s awkward and for some reason can’t be changed. This feels like an idea a seasoned game developer would know wouldn’t work very well, but the inexperienced team behind A Place for the Unwilling hasn’t been around long enough to see the flaws in it.
There were also several times where a pronouns or verb tenses were mixed up as well as some missing words or misspellings. Like the other mistakes, these things were probably overlooked by the two translators who almost certainly did this in their free time for very little pay, so I’m not too upset about it. Like I’ve said before, I don’t know much about making video games, but I know enough to know it’s hard work. And honestly the rest of the game is so good I can overlook these flaws.
A Place for the Unwilling is not a perfect game. There a lot of amateur mistakes that might push some people away initially, but I have to insist that you play this game and stick with it because of how good it is at telling its story and how powerfully it affected my emotions. We have all played $60 big studio games that had the emotional appeal of a wet napkin, so for $15 I implore you to experience this wonderful game.

Review from Steam

I am currently on my third play-through of this game and hope to play it many more times. Still fresh in my mind is a final conversation with a particular character that caused my skin to crawl.
Each play-through has revealed hidden spaces, options, interactions with characters and much more. It speaks to the array of reactions that the game can have to player decisions. These revelations were surprising and exciting. I wanted to know more and I agonised each time over my decisions and dialogue choices- fighting my own instincts and intentions when given the choice to try something different. The structure of the game and the even the intentionality of how save files work help to produce a mixed sense of helplessness, inevitability, transience and consequence.
This is a labour of love as is clear by the game itself and also through the discussions and proactive interaction with the community on discord, steam, etc. I'm really glad I stumbled across this game.
It must be said that this game is not without its bugs and quirks and there are elements which frustrate me (not enough to stop me from replaying it):
- bizzare 'hot spots' around items or characters which require specific and precise angling of your character to interact with them (manipulating your character eats time and in a time based game, this can get a little tense)
- typos and text code which break immersion
- controls that are somewhat fiddly
- slow walking speed
- slow text scrolling and slow loading of full text when trying to skip forward during conversations (it feels like running through jelly)
- "standard" dialogue in inappropriate settings (breaks the immersion)
At the end of the day, I'm really enjoying this game.
Thank you so very much to the Developers!

Review from Steam

Edited: Having now completed the game, I can recommend this game to those interested in a casual story in an interesting setting, with replay potential if this is your cup of tea. I will likely not replay this game, and if I do it won't be for a very long time. The game is ambitious and thoughtful. It provides multiple avenues for play, where choices impact story. That said, it has glaring issues. It doesn't have mouse compatibility and its key bindings are awkward. For a game that revolves around the tedium of buying and selling goods and walking or being driven around town for various objectives, point-and-click would have been a godsend. The game itself begins with mystery, and opens up as you explore. There is tension to begin with and - at least in my game play - the tension quickly died. You keep being told about all the tension, but you never really see or feel it. Choices matter, but often when you delve into character plots, read the stories and search for clues in the world, you find you can only dive so far. The game is far shallower than it first presents itself. Moreover, with the clock ticking and lack of guidance around a number of objectives, you will often attempt to complete something and miss out. There are also instances where you must read carefully what you are being told, as when you check your journal it does not accurately correspond (or does not note at all) what you have read earlier. I noticed one bug during a dialogue (where the text read the HTML or whatever code was being used to write in bold lettering - the "<"was missing). Good game. Good indie endeavour. Wish the best for the devs and look forward to what's next.

Review from Steam

This game does not allow you to backup or bifurcate your saves, and takes 30+ hours to play through. My save file became corrupted, 18 hours into a playthrough, making that time a total waste. I have been denied a refund. Given that there's no way to retrieve your game or at least get a refund if this happens to you, I cannot recommend this game. It's a shame, as I was really getting into the story.
edit: The creators of the game have fixed the reason my game became corrupted (though I was not able to retrieve my save). They also told me where one cane find one's saves: C:\Users\\AppData\LocalLow\ALPixelGames\A Place For The Unwilling
Because of this, I am tentatively changing my review to "would recommend". But I also recommend you back up your saves every few game days just in case.