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Unravel Review

Unravel Review

Displaying breathtaking visuals, cast against the backdrop of a lush Scandinavian setting, Unravel is a truly unique puzzler that is sure to tug at your heartstrings. From the onset, it is clear that developer Coldwood Interactive have poured their heart and soul into the process. Within the first ten seconds of the game, players are greeted with a message reading, “Over the last two and a half years we’ve poured our love into this game, and we are thrilled to share it with you. Games can be powerful things, and they even give a small studio like ours a chance to speak to the entire world as an audience”. With so much care and attention put into development, it comes as no surprise that Unravel has been tipped as one of the most highly anticipated games of 2016.

Unravel follows Yarnie, an anthropomorphic creature spun out of red yarn, that literally unravels throughout the course of his adventure. Yarnie’s sole purpose is to restore long lost memories of yesterday, accessing photographs scattered across the house in an attempt to reunite a family’s lost love. There is much left open for interpretation here, as there are no interconnecting cutscenes between gameplay and no dialogue from the characters. Where the game does speak for itself however, is through its beautifully rich Norwegian folk inspired soundtrack, which works to compliment every compelling emotion conveyed across Yarnie’s roughly six-hour journey.

unravel e3 screen9

Unravel feels terrifically unique as its beauty lies within its simplicity. Yarnie uses his thread to traverse the landscape creating yarn bridges, trampolines and lassoing to reach higher platforms. Controls feel extremely tight and responsive, as timed swings and jumps feel easy to execute and any slip-ups for the most part, feel incredibly fair. Frustration does however come as part of the package, as puzzles often consist of multiple stages and the solution isn’t always immediately obvious. Piecing together the final part of the puzzle always feels extremely rewarding and pushes you to fight through the series of more challenging obstacles ahead.

Along with the frustrating difficulty, there were times where I would find myself trapped by the environment and was left no option but to restart. Although this was a pain initially, the game offered the opportunity to restart from the nearest checkpoint, which was luckily never too far away. Saving in the game also felt a little awkward, as there was no in-game save option and no obvious auto-save icon. This led me to plough through all of the game's levels without stopping in between, as there was a looming fear of losing progress.

yarny precious2

As the story progresses you’ll find yourself wading through sheets of thick snow, skirting around lucid green pools of toxic waste and narrowly avoiding the clutches of an angry hamster. The diversity in the level design makes it feel like you’re going on a real adventure and there is a constant twinge of excitement in anticipating what may lie ahead. In terms of gameplay, Unravel feels pleasingly reminiscent of 2D puzzler Limbo in the way that the environments and the creatures that inhabit them are your main foe. However, what sets Unravel apart is its picturesque visuals that capture the charm and elegance of Norwegian wildlife. Each new level feels fresh by mixing up these elements, forcing you to manipulate new aspects of the environment in order to progress.

The game does admittedly feel linear and suffers from a real lack in variation, as there is not much thrown in at later stages to really change up the formula. Existing as a linear game isn’t necessarily Unravel’s shortcoming, however there is little to no opportunity to explore the untouched world that surrounds you and unravel the story even further. It would have been great if there was room for exploration or perhaps multiple ways of solving puzzles to offer more variation in gameplay. Last years Ori and the Blind Forest did an excellent job of this, offering branching paths to players and allowing them to take on the game in their own way.

unravel e3 screen10

Consisting of 11 levels and clocking in at a playtime of around six hours, the game does feel a little short. This may be justified by it’s indie status and modest £15.99 price tag, but there is also very little reason to relive the experience past the first playthrough. Besides unlocking additional trophies/achievements the only other reason to revisit levels is to find the various secrets scattered across the environments. I personally felt no incentive to collect these however, as they offered no real in-game benefit and felt more of a chore to try and locate.

Ultimately, Unravel presents itself as an unspoken story of lost love and a yearning for the past. Protagonist Yarnie is instantly loveable and is possibly one of the most likeable videogame characters in recent memory. The game shines through its stunning visuals, heartfelt soundtrack and unique platforming elements creating a truly unforgettable experience. Unfortunately, gameplay does lack substance, as it can be completed in just six hours and lacks any real replay value. These criticisms fortunately fail to tarnish the beauty and tranquility that is forever on display.

7.50/10 7½

Unravel (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Ultimately, Unravel presents itself as an unspoken story of lost love and a yearning for the past. Protagonist Yarnie is instantly loveable and is possibly one of the most likeable videogame characters in recent memory. The game shines through its stunning visuals, heartfelt soundtrack and unique platforming elements creating a truly unforgettable experience. Unfortunately, gameplay does lack substance, as it can be completed in just six hours and lacks any real replay value. These criticisms fortunately fail to tarnish the beauty and tranquility that is forever on display.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Kieran Harris

Kieran Harris

Staff Writer

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