Unknown 9: Awakening is an ambitious new transmedia bid

March 7, 2024
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What came first, the video game or the tie-in novel? Typically it’s the former – and only after it’s proven to be successful. But this isn’t the case with Unknown 9: Awakening, a historical action adventure published by Bandai Namco originally announced back in 2020. Back then, it was due for launch the following year. Now, it will rather belatedly arrive this summer, long after a number of other Unknown 9 things have already debuted: a comic, the beginnings of a novel trilogy, a Spotify podcast. There’s no Michael Fassbender movie in sight just yet, but the hope is that Unknown 9: Awakening will supercharge interest in all that, and act as an entry point into this fresh storytelling universe.

If you tuned in to last night’s Xbox Partner Preview showcase, you’ll have seen a bit of Unknown 9 in action. At first glance, it looks like a cross between Assassin’s Creed and modern Tomb Raider, starring a character named Haroona played by Anya Chalotra (Yennefer in Netflix’s version of The Witcher). But while last night’s trailer was combat heavy, an extended look I was given offered plenty of moments for quieter, stealthier tactics, and smarter gameplay using a suite of special powers.

So, what’s it all about? Well, you know how Assassin’s Creed has an ancient civilisation and modern day clandestine societies vying to exploit its secret knowledge to promote rival causes centering on the nature of control or free will? It’s very much like that.

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