Developer Alexandre Spindler and Studio Drama recently revealed Unrecord, a first-person shooter with a striking bodycam perspective which frequently sells the illusion of being real camera footage.
It's so convincing that some questioned whether they were looking at a pre-rendered, on-rails game, or perhaps actual video footage. A few hours after the announcement, Spindler responded: "It's not a rail shooter or an FMV, it is indeed an FPS and these images are from real-time gameplay, not pre-rendered."
Today, Spindler went further, uploading a new video of the game (embedded above and in the tweet below) which includes the Unreal Engine user interface. Near the end of the video, he frees up the camera, no-clipping through the level to prove that it's genuinely an FPS with free movement. "For those who thought Unrecord was fake or a video, sorry," Spindler wrote.
A lot contributes to the believability of Unrecord's "bodycam footage," and it isn't all raw graphical fidelity. The exposure adjustment effect, where the sky transitions from overblown to cloudy, is very effective. The free hand movement is another big part of the illusion: the camera follows the motion of the hands on a delay, as if genuinely responding to movements of the chest.
Beneath the video effects is the actual fidelity of the environments, which is remarkable, but not unique. Using photographs to build and texture 3D worlds, called photogrammetry, has been doable in real-time rendering for a number of years. The technique was used in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, for instance, and that was almost a decade ago. Combined with the features of Unreal Engine 5, presumably some ray tracing for the reflections, and today's other advancements, Unrecord's look isn't totally out there. Similarly photographic detail can be seen in Epic's first Unreal Engine 5 demo.
For those who thought Unrecord was fake or a video, sorry. 😌 pic.twitter.com/41ESKMISy1April 20, 2023
That doesn't mean Unrecord will necessarily run like a dream with the average PC components. The studio did say yesterday that "realistic effects do not solely rely on textures or polygon count, therefore it will be possible to experience immersion on less powerful machines," but specifically how less powerful, they aren't ready to say.
For as realistic as it appears, there is a distinct 'Unreal Engine 5 look' to Unrecord that I can't precisely describe, but can identify when I see it—the longer I look at the trailer, the more I see through the illusion. But it is frequently startling how much it looks like real camera footage. It'd make a great basis for a found-footage horror game, but Studio Drama says it's going for a detective thriller vibe, which has led to some discomfort and criticism of the game, given that genuine police bodycam footage is commonly seen in real life as evidence of police brutality and killings.
Responding to the conversation emerging around Unrecord yesterday, Studio Drama said that it doesn't want to spoil the story by explaining its themes, but that it understands "people who may feel disturbed by the game's images."
You can read more about the Unrecord, which doesn't have a release date yet, in my article about the announcement from yesterday.