I remember watching EA’s press conference last year at E3. A lot of the stuff that they showed off was standard press conference fare. Then, a mysterious character, Yarny, appeared on the screen in a new platformer, Unravel. I instantly attached myself to Unravel, but would my admiration transfer itself when it is released one year later? Yes, but not as much as I would have hoped…
Developer: ColdWood Interactive
(Review code provided by publisher)
Right from the start, you can’t help but admire and respect ColdWood Interactive for what they have done with Unravel. Before you even start the game, you are greeted with a message from the team themselves, thanking you for sharing their journey with them. The message was a nice touch from the developers and showed that they really care about the products they release for us.
Don’t expect to come into Unravel and expect a story as deep as The Witcher, as you simply won’t get it. However, that doesn’t mean that the story does not have some meaning to it. Essentially, Yarny is set with the task of helping an old lady rediscover her memories in the form of her photos. That’s basically it in a nutshell but it did actually surprise me. I really wanted to get this old lady her memories back as ColdWood portray the story beautifully.
Beautiful, that is exactly how you can sum up Unravel’s visuals, right from start to finish. Each level has so much detail, you really do enjoy going through and seeing how the photo progresses from start to finish. Yarny himself is also visually lovely to look at, with so much detail on him. I love the animation where Yarny pulls up because he has run out of Yarn. The soundtrack behind Unravel is also really nice to listen to throughout your playthrough.
What did surprise me about Unravel was the overall tone that accompanies the game. Starting off all sunny and full of joy and happiness, Unravel slowly but surely goes to a much place, with more dull and rain/snow levels awaiting you further down the line. It is that extra level of depth they have added to Unravel that adds to the games’ overall charm. It is nice to see a platforming game with extra layers, rather than just a simple A to B, start to finish kind of game. Even when you are travelling between photos during the latter parts of the game, you can sense the overall ‘darker’ tone as you try and you capture the moments of other pictures in the old ladies’ photo album.
Of course, Unravel is a platformer at heart. However, do not expect Yarny to excel in things such as Mario and Sonic have done in the past. Quite frankly, Yarny is pretty useless on his own, but it is his Yarn that makes up for all of his inabilities. As with all platform games, the overall aim is to get from start to finish and Unravel is no different in that respect. What is very apparent is that Unravel is completely physics based, meaning that everything you do with your Yarn has an effect some way or another. One of the biggest criticisms I’d have is that the game does get quite repetitive quite quickly. Even though levels are designed differently to each other, you quickly find that the puzzles are very similar in their approach. However, there are some levels that I enjoyed much more than others. For example, there is a part in one of the latter levels that involves a car crusher, which turned out to be a really intense moment. It was these kind of face paced moments that I enjoyed the moment but unfortunately, they are too far between each other. More of these moments would have resulted in a better experience.
So, Unravel is all about using Yarny and his Yarn to unravel (mind the Pun!) the puzzles in each level. You can throw your Yarn out in a lasso motion in order to achieve a number of tricky swings, or to pull objects closer to you. You will find that you will need to use your Yarn to grab items, swing across trees, pull items, tie knots in order to create bridge and more… all without running out of yarn that is! Don’t worry though, there are regular points where a fresh ball comes up, which also act as the game’s checkpoints.
I shall give you a little bit advice when you are about to take on each level. Sometimes, the puzzles are deceptively simple. There will be moments where you scratch your head for a long time, only to kick yourself when you realise how incredibly easy the solution turned out to be. I found that out numerous times, especially when a puzzle in one of the earlier missions took me a good 20 minutes to even figure out exactly what I needed to do. Yarny maybe a charmer, but there are times you really wish you could wring his stringy neck! Make sure you also pay attention to the background in your level that you are in at the time. Whilst it all ‘looks’ natural, there are elements that will jump to the fore and screw you over, particularly some nasty winged opponents! You really have to time Yarney’s movements to a perfection as failing to do so will result in multiple restarts from the last checkpoint.
There is no doubt about it, Unravel is a complete charm. Your first hour will leave you falling completely in love with Yarny. However, the game can get repetitive quite quickly in terms of its overall solutions to the puzzles that await you. Seeing as Unravel will take you around 7 hours to complete, things can get a little boring near the end, as you feel that you have done everything. However, for £15, Unravel is still a worthwhile pickup, and one that I definitely recommend, if not just for the gorgeous art design.