Unravel is an enjoyable, simple and easy experience with a classic gameplay, deep narrative, a magnificent soundtrack and stunning visuals. It is really hard not to praise the latest ColdWood Interactive work and even harder not to recommend it to platforming fans.
Unravel won’t surprise you with new mechanics. Instead, it will try to conquer you by discovering static ‘memories’ that appear in the world as you journey through the life of an elderly woman via her collection of photographs.
Sounds boring at first if you happen to sport a cold heart, but it isn’t. The journey is deep enough to captivate everyone. Each level is just beautiful and bittersweet. The memories you unlock all float around the rebuilding of the elderly woman’s photo album. As you collect a unique knitted heirloom from each level and stick it to the front of the album, a new story is unveiled, introduced by a small paragraph of text. These gently remind you that the photographs you’re collecting are all that’s left of these memories.
Childhood trips, walks in the woods, the choices we make as we grow older, the realization that life isn’t as long as you want it to be. These emotions belong to all of us and Unravel manages to dress them by making you trot through the beauty and dangers of the nature, get crushed by heavy machinery, get eaten by cockroaches, get fried by electrical wires, and desperately trying to avoid the birds who want nothing more than to have a Yarny as a snack. Every single step Yarny makes, is thru a path someone else walked before and happened to take a picture to remember an important moment.
Just like Limbo before it, Unravel wants to push you to die before you can learn to survive. Without being able to fight back, your only option is to embrace it and learn more about your surroundings and what you can do with it. And it goes a little further. You trail a constant thread from your wool-bound body, creating a useful way to retrace your steps that also happens to limit the distance you can travel. Balls of yarn look just out of reach but there’s always a way to get to them, and the shortest path always happen to be unreachable.
When you get stuck, you can always hold your left trigger and you’ll climb up your own rope, regathering yarn as you go. You also have a knitted lasso on the right trigger that lets you swing and jump large distances, and Yarny can tie wool between anchor points to create bridges. You can use them as a trampoline for bouncing to distant areas, or as a bridge to drag items across.
Movements seem basic at first, and they are all clearly abilities you have seen somewhere else, but the game makes you think and use them frequently, and in a smart way. There are a number of puzzles that’ll leave you scratching your head. And fortunately, the game won’t hold your hands either, since anchor points are the only highlighted puzzle elements. You will need to find your own ways to reach specific areas. I still remember one of the first puzzles where I was tricked into thinking that specific elements were simple decorations.
Each chapter is very different in theme and refreshes the repetitive puzzles you will find. I knew I was doing similar puzzles over and over, but I was hooked to the visuals and narrative. You won’t get offended by doing similar stuff, you won’t notice it. And if you decide to go for all the secret collectibles, you are in for a hard, hard journey.
Unravel will mean different things to different players. In some way, it made want to play Gravity Ghost again. It offers a classic and solid gameplay, interesting puzzles, amazing environments and a narrative you don’t want to miss. For the price and good five hours it will take you to complete, this title is a must play.