Set in a low-fantasy version of ancient India, Unrest follows five individual characters as they try to survive and solve their problems in the famine-stricken city-state of Bhimra, which is plagued by poverty, disease and, unsurprisingly, political and social unrest. The characters are a peasant girl trying to escape her arranged marriage, a priest troubled by the actions of his order, a mercenary captain striving to keep the city from tearing itself apart, a princess and sole heir of the former royal family currently struggling to survive in the slums, and the ambassador of the Naga Empire. Some choices made by one character may affect another.
Text and conversations make up most of the game, NPC reactions being tracked according to three values: friendship, respect and fear. Character personalities can develop as a number traits get unlocked according to choices and actions. Combat consists of rare one-on-one duels that are always avoidable and to be used as a last resort, being particularly risky for the character involved. However, and perhaps most notably, the player can't fail the game in the typical sense, even the death of one or more characters simply resulting in the game incorporating the event into the story and moving on to the next chapter.