It’s hard to tell the worth of a game with such limited playtime. Thanks to EA Access (in case you’re wondering how I’m playing this) I’ve been tinkering around with Unravel, the warm-hearted side scroller that EA had shown us at E3 last year. Most people remember the presentation because of how nervous the creator was on stage. He should rest easy knowing he made a wonderful game.
Unravel is the story of our little red friend named Yarny. It’s the story of one of the creators of 4-One Gaming and his struggle to not get wet or run out of yarn, which is mostly true, scratch the 4-One part. We aren’t really clued into what’s going on when the game starts out. An older woman gets up and reflects on some of the framed pictures hung up on her walls. She then walks up the stairs of her abode with a basket of knitting supplies and a ball of yarn drops out and we get Yarny. He traverses the house looking at these various pictures and eventually he basically jumps in the picture and plays in the environment of the photograph.
I was moderately anticipating this game before I actually got to play it. A few levels later I adore it. Yarny is a bit touchy, if he gets wet he can drown, his mortal enemies are crabs, and it doesn’t take much to take him out. As you encounter the environment there are everyday mechanics of standard platforming games like stacking a bunch of blocks to jump and lift yourself over a ledge. This is done with fallen apples and pushing them into a puddle to hop over (it really doesn’t take much to hurt Yarny I’m telling you) but he can fall or slip down rocks and toss and tumble a little, bonking his head for example. He just rubs his little yarn temple, shakes it off, and continues his journey.
While that doesn’t happen too often it’s abundantly clear that this game has a ton of heart. After you complete a level you can go back and look at a photo album where some pictures were blurred they now become clear, I won’t say what those photos are of, but it’s likely going to lead to something that will make me touchy-feely and/or cry. You can lasso your yarn onto a kite and steer the kite through trees. It’s normal mechanics from platforming games but they’re utilized brilliantly and creatively through lush and ornately detailed environments in an absolutely beautiful and personal game.
I did have an issue or two where I ran out of yarn. Once your run out of yarn or you’re getting close to, Yarny starts looking skeletal and he can’t move, there are tons of threads where you can replenish your yarn however at this point I ran out of yarn when I had gone from one location to another, the game had to load, I was steps away from the new bundle of yarn and I couldn’t go back to fix a mistake of using too much yarn. For that reason I had to restart my level and I was about 25 minutes in, and was rather frustrated. It may sound confusing but the yarn is essential and they ways you use it and how you use it can make you go further or limit your journey.
Even with that shortcoming I adore this game, it has the heart, creativity, and beauty that I haven’t seen in a game for quite some time. Look for a full review of Unravel sometime next week. Let us know what you think of the game and comment if you have any questions!