When Martin Sahlin walked on stage and talked passionately about his upcoming title Unravel, his love of the genre and the character he created pulled you in. Unravel was created not to battle it out to become the next blockbuster, but to convey a story of melancholy, of empathy and of how life changes in a blink of an eye.
In the game, you play as a cute Yarn character called Yarny. He was the product of sadness and longing for times past, and his mission (if you may) is to repair those memories that may have been lost throughout time. These memories are that of the life of an old lady, who you see during the opening sequence reminiscing over her past. When you start the game you encounter a photo album where all the photos and messages have faded from memory, and the cute yarn ‘bits’ have been lost throughout the world. The game uses these ‘bits’ or ‘secrets’ as a synonym for ‘memories’ in a great way. Yarny is also ‘tied’ to his home by a string, and as you go further and further from your home Yarny becomes thinner, and at some point he can barely keep his head upright. This is when you find ‘yarn’ around the world which acts as ‘checkpoints’, which Yarny uses to wind up the yarn so he can travel further into the world.
Yarny sets out into the big world to go and find these lost memories, and return them to the photo album, so that they’re safe. Whenever Yarny finds a memory he lovingly embraces it. The story conveys strong emotions and when starting the game, you can’t help but feel that by the end of this game you will cry. As the Creators said, the game conveys a lot of the story throught the music and, for all intents and purposes they succeed in this effort. Also the yarn string that connects you to your home is also a tool you use to get to different areas (more on that below), and plays an integral part in how you play the game.
Unravel manages to successfully touch your heart, and one can relate to the ‘good old days’ where everything always seemed perfect, but have now been lost.
Unravel has an insane amount of detail. The game takes the route of the side scrolling genre and takes a lot of inspiration from games like Limbo. But Unlike Limbo, Unravel gives more detail to the world. The colourful world takes on the ‘melancholy’ of how you would see the world as a child. Whenever Yarny encounters a new and unfamiliar object he becomes curious, and when he celebrates you solving a difficult puzzle he claps his hands and cheers. Physics in the game is excellent, and the way Yarny conveys being dropped on his head, or getting wet is amazing.
Gameplay is entertaining and in some cases a challenge. The world is full of challenges and puzzles that you have to solve by using objects in the world such as cans and apples, along with the yarn. Getting all secrets can be a tough task with many of them hidden from sight and some almost impossible to get to.
Controls are easy to learn and the game is very responsive to what the player wants to achieve. The game does not hold your hand throughout the challenging parts and fully expects you to use your creativity to get passed Crabs and the treacherous waves. The string connected to Yarny is a tool that is required in completing the tasks that lay ahead of you. Some obvious, and some not so obvious puzzles are scattered around the world. For instance, you can tie the string to two points and create a trampoline, to jetisson you to higher areas, or as a bridge to get useful items from one point to the next.
Achievements in game are not arduous in their objectives, so expect to unlock a few of them. Unlike most games, Unravel does not expect you to grind for hours just to unlock the ‘rope swinging’ achievement. You can unlock up to 1000 gamerscore for achieving certain goals.
Unravel is one of the best Indie games I have played since Limbo, and takes the indie genre to the next level and really pushes the boundaries for what a puzzle platformer can be. The game offers you hours of gameplay, and unique challenges that not only demands creativity, but rewards you with an experience that will not only be fulfilling, but emotionally satisfying. For the price this game is worth every penny.
Unravel is available now on Xbox One and other platforms. You can play the free trial on EA Access or Origin Access on Xbox One or PC. RRP $20.