In the shades of the Electronic Arts’ AAA releases, Swedish-based Coldwood Studios had a smaller project, which was unveiled with great amaze at E3 2015. Unravel is the name of the game, letting you play as a small creature of wool, lost in the middle of our universe, which seems immense in his eyes. Between platforming and reflex, the title takes us into a world full of poetry and filled with charm.
Unravel is an interesting game when you look at it on an industry point of view. Typically independent, this style of charming game is something I always enjoy finding in the line-up of a big publisher. Often compared to Limbo with which does share some similarities, it is however an emancipation of its artistic direction, especially the wool mechanism element which is the composition of our main character: Yarny.
The adventure opens up with a cinematic evoking the backstory of Unravel: alone in her country house, an elderly lady is remembering busy memories of her younger past, and while passing by a set of picture frames, she drops a red ball of yarn out of her basket which slides under the table. Minutes later, that yarn became magically Yarny, the game’s main character. The house of this lady appears to be the central hub of the game, where each picture or memory, represent one of the ten levels to explore. Touching and always attached to the theme of memories, the backstory is simple but manages to effortlessly keep us immersed in a sometimes melancholic atmosphere, sometimes joyous, and even… Well, Unravel melted my heart.
To travel across levels, players will have an unusual character to guide, since Yarny is entirely made of wool, which enables him to create bridges, swing like Tarzan or descend and climb walls with his trail of yarn. Our hero is limited in his freedom by a restricting length of yarn you can trail behind, and as you advance in Unravel, this will force you to regularly search for wool “resupply” points. In all seriousness, the game is not of a bewildering difficulty and if explore we an area, you will rarely find yourself stuck because of the character limit of yarn.
Unravel melted my heart.
One of the perfect point in Unravel is that it has created a yarn mechanic that is without faults. Although no aiming system exist, the handling of this yarn mechanism is very intuitive, with its grip skillfully taking advantage of the system according to two triggers that you have chosen to anchor your rope to the area or are simply hanging to. We regularly find common mechanics between levels which will however be altered in some precise one, such as those taking advantage of the environment for a pleasant change with the presence of water, or the lack of tangible ground with a high wind. Although you’ll figure out the game in couple of minutes, Unravel manages to vary its gameplay without any effort, by modifying the environment and opportunities around an immovable central gameplay.
The universe you venture into isn’t as peaceful as it seems in the screenshots, as the game hits you with some critters that will have you run away from to safety. While they always seem easy to understand, some of these levels often require a bit more skill than the average to get by without problems. Finding your way into those riddles fits the title itself: Unravel. Once again, it is not a difficult game and the puzzles will require a minimum level of concentration to be completed safely, which in general is a moderate one for the majority of its public.
Unravel managed to both charm me with its charming atmosphere, and in its pure modeling and physics engine: Unravel is beautiful. When combined with striking lighting effects and enchanting environments showing that the Nordic countries have more beauty to share. You’ll get the chance when you play Unravel to admire the river waves even if they are so deadly for our woolly hero. With the perfectly accompanied soundtrack that matches the tone of the adventure, Unravel is an immersive work set in a beautiful universe, which you’ll struggle to leave for all the good cause once the adventure is done.
Unravel was reviewed using an Xbox One redeemable copy of the game provided by Electronic Arts. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• Technically flawless
• Artistically magnificent
• Superb soundtrack
• Impeccable control scheme
• Successful balance between exploration, action and puzzles
• A subtle touch of melancholy
• Easy Riddles for regulars
• The yarn rope management is under-exploited