Unravel (PC) Review

By Athanasios 28.05.2016

Review for Unravel on PC

It's always strange when a behemoth of a publisher such as EA chooses to welcome a small indie title to its ranks, instead of another licenced product. Developed by Coldwood Interactive, Unravel reflects the love and devotion that its creators infused into this atmospheric puzzle-platformer, especially evident in its woolly protagonist, and the emotions that his tiny, yet larger than life, journey will evoke… Although it seems that these won't be enough for most.

Yarny deserves to be the mascot of Coldwood Interactive. Besides being so cute and feeble (and, at the same time, heroic) that it's impossible not to root for it, it's also as expressive as a Disney inanimate character, conveying more emotion than those video game characters that just can't shut up. Its origin story? As nonsensical and charming as a fairytale: an old woman is taking a look at a photo album, with a bittersweet smile on her face, and eyes ready to cry. She then takes her knitting basket and goes upstairs to rest, while a red ball of wool falls down, from which this little red monster comes to life.

It begins its journey by entering the world portrayed on a photograph for… some reason, and the game begins - and if the fact that this looks gorgeous hadn't been made perfectly clear in the intro, seeing Yarny walk around the place will certainly do so. The "worlds" that it will have to brave are no bigger than a backyard, a small pond, or a park, and yet, they are portrayed in such a way that it all feels quite epic - the protagonist is tiny after all; therefore, small waves feel like tsunamis, rolling rocks like avalanches, and crabs and birds like giant beasts.

Screenshot for Unravel on PC

These Scandinavian beauties (Victoria Silvstedt not included) are basically trips to the past; trips to the memories embedded to the many photographs that decorate a house. However, those expecting a typical storytelling will be disappointed, since the "plot" is just whispered through subtle things like "holographic" afterimages of people in the background. The main purpose of Unravel is simply to be a very emotive journey, and, luckily, it is.

The "memories" get reflected in the gameplay as well as the surroundings, and, like real life, things start innocently enough, with Yarny walking around some flowery backyard, on a level that has a pretty laidback feel to it, with little to no dangers lying ahead, and a soothing tune bopping along the ride, and then… things get far more depressing with each passing step, with mines that destroy the landscape, blizzards, and, finally, graveyards.

Screenshot for Unravel on PC

While not perfect by any means, this unique narrative is the only good thing about Unravel. Like many likeminded titles before it, such as Journey, Flower, or even the relatively unknown Toren, the gameplay suffers a little bit. On the surface, this one is just a simple puzzle-platformer, with no real innovations other than the fact that Yarny leaves behind a trail of wool as it moves around.

The tricky part is that, since the wool isn't infinite, the cute protagonist must be careful not to run out of it, because it will be its main means of transportation. Now, many reviewers have complained about having to go back to fix any wrong moves that used too much wool, and they are correct… sort of. It is an annoying mechanic, yes, but it happens very rarely, the backtracking takes less than a minute, and the checkpoints where Yarny replenishes its resources are aplenty.

Screenshot for Unravel on PC

It's possible to tie knots in certain spots, do the Tarzan, pull an object, climb to a higher place, or even create a trampoline. The problems start after the second or third level or so, when one realises that puzzles tend to repeat themselves a little too often, turning to boring chores rather than challenging obstacles, especially since, most of the time, what must be done is pretty obvious, and, thus, unexciting - unlike those few physics-based puzzles that require poking around and experimenting with something other than wool.

Yarny will create small "boats" to move across small ponds, manipulate machinery, and even scare and/or trap animals by using simple items, but, sadly, not only are these puzzles a bit rare when compared to the generic "swing from platform to platform" ones, but they can also get slightly annoying from time to time, since they tend to require lots of trial-and-error to find the exact spot where the main character must stand or push an object to - even if the solution is, once again, clear as day.

Screenshot for Unravel on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

While the minimalistic and allegorical storyline isn't a traditional one, Yarny's fairytale-ish adventure will surely touch the hearts of most people, and the audio-visuals will leave them breathless, since they aren't fantastic just when compared to the indie gaming world, but fantastic, period. Unfortunately, and although Unravel has a couple of good things going for it, the element of gameplay didn't receive the same love as the rest of the package, as it constantly goes from fun to boring, and from boring to irritating.

Developer

Coldwood Interactive

Publisher

EA

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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