The Real Issue: Unrecord and Next-Gen Graphics


Gameplay footage of an upcoming first-person shooter video game, Unrecord, was released to the public on April 19, sparking controversy and excitement for its ultra-realistic gameplay. In the game, players take control of a police officer, viewing a lifelike world from a first-person perspective via body cam footage. 

Unrecord is currently being developed by DRAMA using Epic Games’s Unreal Engine 5, the latest entry in the game engine market. Unreal 5 utilizes Real-Time Raytracing technology, developed by Nvidia Corporation, to render lifelike lighting and shadows, creating stunning graphics that are almost indistinguishable from reality.

Unfortunately, what some see as a technical breakthrough, others see as disaster. Immediately after the gameplay trailer was released, the age-old debate on the realism of violent video games reemerged. While, in the past, this issue was brushed under the rug due to graphical limitations of the 90s and 00s, recent innovations in the gaming industry may give the critique a leg in the game.

Twitter, like on most occasions, is the main front of the battle. The core concern is if the realistic graphics could potentially desensitize or incite real life violence. Many have tried to argue in a different direction, attempting to link the game to pro- or anti-police messages and foreign policy, stirring up the issue of criminal activity. However, the developers at DRAMA have refuted these claims, also addressing other questions and concerns. 

“As a French studio addressing a global audience, the game does not engage in any foreign policy and is not inspired by any real-life events,” DRAMA said on a Steam FAQ. “The game will obviously avoid any undesirable topics such as discrimination, racism, violence against women and minorities. The game will have no biased or Manichaean take on criminal acts and police violence. We also respect and understand people who may feel disturbed by the game’s images.”

While some believe the game looks too real, others believe it looks too fake.

[There are] too many micro movements in [the] hands that are inconsistent. You’ll have to have some kind of procedurally generated AI to have these kinds of animations.

— Alex Koshelkov

“[There are] too many micro movements in [the] hands that are inconsistent,” game developer Alex Koshelkov said in a tweet. “You’ll have to have some kind of procedurally generated AI to have these kinds of animations.” 

While the debate is ongoing, the game’s release has yet to even be announced. Luckily, enthusiasm surrounding the gameplay trailer has expedited the development; yet, given the studio’s indie status, Unrecord’s launch date will ultimately come down to funding and public support.

“We are currently only an independent studio that self-funds. It is rare to see a first game in pre-production with such enthusiasm,” DRAMA stated on Steam. “There is no release date or even an estimated year of release at this time.”