The mid-priced title from EA has been eagerly anticipated, particularly given the drought of new releases in the first few months of the year.
Unravel | Rating: 8/10 | Xbox One (reviewed)/Playstation 4/PC
Ostensibly an indie puzzle platformer, it stands out in its crowded genre thanks to some beautifully drawn visuals, which follow you the journey of Yarrny, your anthropomorphic woolen protagonist, through a sumptuous Scandinavian landscape
You need only play the opening few chapters to see why one of the world’s biggest publishers decided to get into bed with Swedish developers Coldwood Interactive. Its vision is inspired and executed beautifully; capable of effortlessly charming players without relying on cutesy kitsch, its rural setting is brought to life with an almost understated panache. Wisps of grass blow in the wind while flowers loll back and forward as you brush past them.
The game occasionally presents a fully fledged puzzle for you to solve, but for the most part, its challenge is one of traversal as you harness Yarny’s threads of wool to navigate your way around the environment, employing them as a makeshift lasso, vine, tightrope, or even a trampoline. This is very much a game with physics at its heart.
The mechanics are not quite as innovative as its developers suggested back when the game was unveiled at E3 and on occasion, it fails to articulate to the player exactly what you should be looking to do, leading to moments of frustration. Mercifully, these are in the minority and for the most part, the fun of using Yarny’s wool to make increasingly complicated connections is also rewarding.
Where Unravel doesn’t quite work is the narrative. An opening cinematic, again beautifully created, reveals the avatar is a ball of yarn that fell from an elderly woman’s basket. As you make progress, the woman’s memories of her past become more vivid. The concept aims to give an emotional layer to the game, signalling the importance of love, but it feels a little too contrived. Overall, though, this is a delightful jolt to the senses in the cold, barren winter months.
TIPS AND TRICKS
• Don’t fret if a certain element in a level seems irrelevant to a puzzle. It is possible to complete them in a number of ways, so experiment.
• Always explore hooks that seem strangely positioned, they can lead to new routes and secrets.
• Try building bridges where you see two hooks close together.