Unravel is the latest addition to the “excellent indie games” category by Coldwood Interactive. It has the most adorable main character, a moving plot, and solid platformer gameplay all for a whopping $20 (available on PC, Ps4 and Xbox One).Not going to lie, Unravel is a steal at this price and worth all the pennies. The game and story revolves around the (so-far) cutest video game character of 2016, Yarny, who travels through his human’s most beloved memories. Yarny’s objective as he traverses each stage is to gather as many memories as possible, bring them back to his human (an elderly mother figure), and preserve them in a scrapbook. Unravel doesn’t exactly have the most ingenious plot line but it certainly tugs on the heart strings. The plot line isn’t made to make you think too hard, but rather it forces the player to open the flood-gates of “feels”; you’ll want to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken with in a while and tell them how much you love them. Unravel is a game that has heart and emotion, no understatement, as that is the main element in this game. So, if you’re not ready for a feels trip, you may want to get off this bus—but seriously though, you’ll be passing up on a great game.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Unravel is damn pretty. We are talking some of the most gorgeous graphics we have seen recently. Unravel walks this fine line of whimsy and realistic making for captivating backgrounds and levels. I wouldn’t think boat houses and marshes to be something gorgeous to play in, but combined with the art style and seeing the world through Yarny’s eyes, makes for immersive levels. Unravel level designs definitely give you the “back in the golden days” feel when you visit a new memory. The artistic direction isn’t just gorgeous but it captures nostalgia and memory-like feelings perfectly. One of the high points of Unravel is not just the emotional story line but it’s main character, Yarny. Fangirl mode aside, Yarny is indeed adorable, but ColdWood nailed the character design and likability of Yarny. Yarny does not speak, which makes it harder to get players to develop attachment to him. The Coldwood team conquers this possible pit by giving Yarny big personality. While playing the levels you can see a lot of body language from Yarny, communicating a range of emotions. For a non speaking character, Yarny is very animated and is not difficult to understand, he makes his thoughts (and sometimes they mirror the player’s) very clear. The music while playing Unravel is also spot on- it invokes a relaxing atmosphere, or hits you in the gut as you watch some of the cut scenes. Pair the music with a likable main character and district art style, Unravel becomes one of the most memorable games you’re likely to pick up this year.
Unravel excels in story and art, but how does it play? I’m pleased to say that Unravel is a solid platformer puzzle game. If you enjoy solving puzzles in order to progress into the next part of the level, then Unravel is something that you should pick up. The levels and puzzles arent too difficult as Unravel really is more of an immersive casual game. It isnt made to make you think too hard as you try to solve the puzzles, and it isn’t made to make the player stress as they play. In fact, while playing, I was very relaxed. Unravel’s game play is in this perfect zone of “I want to play a video game, but I dont want to get too worked up about it.” Its very casual like, but gamers who enjoy this type of genre will not be disappointed as the game isnt easy or a push over. It does provide a challenge. What I do love about Unravel that keeps the game fresh, is the restriction of resources. Yarny is, naturally, made of yarn. He can only go so far before he starts to unravel ( I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, COLDWOOD) and is unable to progress any further. You have to manage the yarn resource as you run forward, stringing together methods to solve the puzzles, and locating a new stash of yarn so you can complete the level. There has been a few times where Ive had to backtrack in certain areas to undo some of my work so I have enough yarn to make it to the next section of the level, and though it looks frustrating, it adds a nice layer of complexity to Unravel’s game play.
However, for all of Unravel’s good points there is some room for improvement. As much as I love platformers and puzzles, it doesn’t exactly pioneer this game genre or push the envelope—even with its resource limitations. Gamers have seen this type of game at least a dozen in the last month: it isn’t groundbreaking. That doesn’t mean to say Unravel does not execute it’s game play cleanly, making for an enjoyable, smooth, experience—its just pretty standard gaming. Another weak point in the Unravel game play is that there is a very little re-playability to it. Unravel does offer collectibles, trophies, and secret areas, but not enough for me to want to replay it after I complete my initial play through. I mean, I can live without the extra achievement, as it doesn’t really add to the story or provide character level ups/power ups. I did not go out of my way while playing Unravel to find hidden objects or branch off sections of levels, the length of the each memory/level was enough for me to feel satisfied. Once I completed Unravel, and I was able to get to the end of the story, I did not feel compelled to go for another play through. Because Unravel is a relatively short game, with a very straight forward game play and plot, there isn’t much to go back and get unless you are a completionist type gamer obsessed with getting every last trophy Unravel has to offer.
Overall, Unravel isn’t a flawless game but it is definitely worth the time and money. It’s a good platformer game with decent puzzles and solid game play. While it doesn’t break any new ground with the gameplay, the yarn resource limitation adds a level of depth that preserves more active engagement with the player, and the graphics certainly help to create an immersive environment as well.
Pick it up today. I could certainly think of worse ways you could spend $20…