It’s difficult to make a video game. It’s difficult to make an emotional video game. It’s difficult to make a video game without a narrator. It’s extremely difficult to make an emotional video game without a narrator. Yet, that’s exactly what Unravel does.
Check out our impressions below:
If you’re unable to view the video:
Unravel, the side-scrolling game from developers Coldwood and publisher Electronic Arts, has had our attention since its first presentation as a pleasant surprise at E3 2015. The game looked fantastic, pairing wonderful environments with physics-based puzzles. Leading up to the release of the game (it’s available now for EA Access members, with a full release on February 9th), we saw several videos showcasing not only gameplay, but the purpose of the protagonist “Yarny.”
Yarny is – as the name would imply – made out of yarn, and uses this yarn to both physically and metaphorically tie together the long-lost memories of a family. Each level in Unravel takes you to a location once familiar to this family. Photo albums, memories, and trinkets help you understand the journey of all the family members. It’s a fascinating way to tell a story without the guiding hand of a narrator. This method of storytelling is not easy to do, but Unravel is so endearing, you feel like Yarny is incomplete without these pieces. You’ll find yourself replaying levels, looking for all the memories lost to time.
The levels themselves vary wildly. I played the trial version of Unravel, and found myself in lush gardens, fantastic forests, and surfy beaches. All of the environments are wonderfully idyllic – just as how we remember our most happy memories. Colors are bright, and each level features fun creatures to encounter, ranging from hedgehogs to crabs. The graphics and sound design in Unravel are great as well. Trees look real enough to touch, and the surf on the beaches rolls in realistically. The developers even find ways to work these creatures and environments into the game’s sometimes-challenging puzzles.
I’m not that big on side-scrollers or puzzle games, but I enjoyed Unravel. The game looks so good, you forget that you’re playing a side-scroller. As for the puzzles, it was fun to take a look at your surroundings and work out a solution. It takes a good bit of ingenuity to solve some of them, and it’s rewarding once you figure it out. Of the side-scrolling puzzle games I have played, I say it’s most similar to Double Fine’s The Cave (which is a great cooperative game, by the way), but there’s a much bigger emphasis on physics. Yarny can swing from trees like Tarzan, and even create slingshots with the yarn that trails behind him. You’ll also find yourself pulling levers and pushing objects to solve puzzles. Because of all the things Yarny can do in Unravel, learning the controls take a little time. However, once you’ve figured it out, it’s intuitive.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Unravel during my EA Access trial. I’ll be picking up the full game as well – not only because it’s was a great experience, but because the developers at Coldwood actually pushed the envelope with this game. Games with great narratives and the level of detail and dedication that went into this game should be rewarded. Unravel retails for $19.99 (US), and you can find out more at unravelgame.com.
If you’re still on the fence, check out almost an hour of commentary-free Unravel gameplay below, but try not to laugh when I can’t figure a puzzle out:
What do you think about Unravel? Let us know in the comments below.