Something to look forward to: As players wait for the first Unreal Engine 5 games to hit the market, a series of impressive demos have offered tantalizing previews of its potential over the last couple of years. The latest one making the rounds looks like it could become one of the most convincingly realistic-looking first-person shooters to date, likely in large part to some clever tricks.

When footage of the upcoming tactical FPS "Unrecord" went viral, many assumed it looked too good to be a real game demo. The developer quickly dispelled the claims with a short clip containing more free-form gameplay and free-cam footage, erasing any doubt of the project's veracity.

According to the promo pitch, Unrecord is a story-based single-player narrative game with tactical combat elements. The brief trailer is made to resemble bodycam footage from a police officer raiding a dilapidated building. What ensues looks like tactical FPS gameplay where the player carefully searches rooms, peeks around corners and shoots gang members. The footage also reveals dialogue options and a realistic ammo system requiring players to check their remaining bullets by pulling out and examining the clip. The developer released footage last October displaying more basic FPS mechanics.

The lighting and textures look top-quality, but the demo's unnervingly realistic presentation probably comes from a few elements that hide flaws that typically give away video games.

The shaky cam stops viewers from focusing too closely on individual components of the image to notice telltale blemishes like texture artifacts. In 2021, a clip from the motorbike simulator Ride 4 wowed audiences with this trick using a camera mode only available in replays. The viability of Unrecord's shaky cam for real gameplay remains to be seen.

Furthermore, the body cam aspect ratio might be tricking viewers' brains into accepting the demo's illusion. Most first-person games try to mimic the perception of the human eye, which is impossible to do perfectly. Replicating something as flawed yet recognizable as bodycam footage, however, is likely more attainable for video games. The excellent animation in the enemies and the player character's hands also contributes to the convincing look.

Another important element on display is photogrammetry – a technique that generates textures from photos of real objects. Resident Evil 7 combined photogrammetry with a less-shaky body cam to deliver similarly realistic graphics on the last-generation consoles at 60 frames per second.

The Unrecord footage also drew controversy for its eerie similarity to police bodycam footage that has often appeared on the news lately. The developer, anticipating the reaction, posted an FAQ addressing questions on the game's stance regarding the police in light of recent high-profile cases of police violence. It reads similarly to the "our game isn't political" statements we sometimes get from big publishers like Ubisoft, while also acknowledging that some players will feel uneasy about Unrecord's content.

Unrecord is too early in development to discuss a release date or even platform availability. However, the game already has a Steam page. You can download the high-bitrate trailer (without YouTube compression) and screenshots at the developer's Google Drive.