I first viewed the trailer for this game way back when it was announced at E3 last year. I was simply scrolling through my Facebook profile to gain information about the event when it popped up. The main character is what caught my eye – Yarny, a small red plushie-doll made of wool. That, and the beautiful scenery surrounding him. And now, nearly 8 months on, I can finally get my hands on it.
Unravel is a indie game published by EA (which really surprised me) and developed by Coldwood Interactive. The head developer – Martin Sahlin – is Swedish, so it comes as no surprise that the game is set there too.
The game follows Yarny who magically becomes alive and explores the world around him while collecting memories of whom I’m guessing is the old lady who knitted him together. These are represented as small balls of light which Yarny himself (or herself, it’s not quite clear) notices as you explore levels by turning his head towards them. After finishing a level, the memories that you have collected (and briefly see faded in the background) can be seen as photographs in an photo album. And I’ve only seen the first level completed and I suspect that these photos are real from how realistic they look.
Beside being small and made of yarn, Yarny has many skills – mainly his use of his body. He can tie knots, create ladders and tight ropes, he can lasso himself to tree branches to swing across and he can even push and pull objects. But there is a slight problem – the further Yarny goes on, the more yarn he loses and limits your movements. While this is a good mechanic, you can find small ball of yarn that Yarny can replenish his body with but it’s fair to say that they’re not dotted around everywhere.
Yarny can’t die from this but he can be crushed, kidnapped by animals who act as the enemies in this game and even drown.
Thankfully, checkpoints can bring you back. Yarny even travels through terrains can as rain and even wraps his arms around himself.
In case you hadn’t guessed, this is a physics-based puzzle platformer – something I am a massive sucker for. Of course, the first level is a tutorial that shows you all the ropes (pun intended…I think) and has a little section that lets you do it yourself before leaving you to conquer the adventure by your own devices. I will say however that with each new level, the game introduces a new mechanic with has to be used within that level, meaning the player gains a new skill each level that can build up.
Yarny is actually based on a creation that Sahlin made himself out of tire wire and yarn while on a family camping trip in Northern Sweden.
And many of the levels are based on landscapes of Umeå in Sweden, which I can say after looking at pictures of for a good hour or so, is gorgeous. This is what Sahlin said about the environments of the game:
“We live in the sticks. It’s a very small town, very far north, close to the Arctic circle. There’s not a lot of people, but a whole lot of countryside. I wanted to share some of that, some of the places that I love. I think you don’t really see enough of that in video games. You tend to see more fantastical stuff.”
This, and the use of the Sony’s PhyreEngine makes this game breathtakingly beautiful and visually one of the best games I’ve seen ever. Ever.
This game has received massive amounts of praise for aesthetics, it’s calming atomsphere and puzzle use. However, many reviews have recommended this game for players who want a short puzzle game (it’s meant to be around 5 -10 hours long) that isn’t as challenging as it could be. And also for players who want a game that gives a wordless message about love and travelling away from what you love.
Unravel is available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It was released earlier this week worldwide (Tuesday 9th February).
See the trailer here.
Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed! Feel free to like and comment. Take care!