I have been accused by my peers as having sentimental feelings towards games that have a certain amount of whimsy. They are not wrong as I find myself connecting with games like Child of Eden, Entwined, Little Big Planet, and Tearaway, on a more personal level. However, the stories that engross me are the ones that have something personal to say without directly communicating it. The developers at Coldwood Interactive have done just that with Unravel, crafting an emotional story with platformer that anyone can enjoy, no matter what age.
There is no denying how gorgeous Unravel is from the start as Yarny, the games red yarned protagonists, walks outside for the first time. The rustic setting set in the fall, showcases an idyllic life in the countryside. The red apples that fall, the orange leaf pile that Yarny falls into, and even the almost bare trees that he lassos onto breathes a sense of calm that not many of us, unfortunately, will know in our lives at this point in time as we are busier now.
The overall point of Unravel is simple; Yarney travels to different points in time based off the photos, that are placed among an elderly woman’s home, to retrieve little yarn trinkets to help with a scrapbook on the table at home. The scrapbook is missing pictures and by completing the levels, the pictures and words appear in the book. While this is the general idea of Unravel in its gameplay, the scope of the game can be so much more depending on the person playing it.
Yarny is cute. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people start creating their own Yarnys at home. Yarny is a hero, but he is also flawed. Throughout the game you will need to discover random pieces of yarn to keep progressing thought the campaign. Yarny can unravel all the way, and when you get to the end of your rope, I mean yarn, you cannot continue. There will be some backtracking involved in your journey as you will have to go back and untie knots that you created just to gain a few inches.
As I wondered through the greenery, using my yarn to climb up tree branches, create bridges, and sometimes make a pulley system, I realized that the platforming in this game wasn’t exactly great or even groundbreaking. Trekking through the elements and avoiding predators along the way in a very Limbo style of gameplay, the Swedish folk music continued regardless of how many times I fell, or drowned. It was enough to keep me going on for one more hour just to see what the next as I went from the crisp fall colors to the lonely winter.
However, there are some stages in the game that didn’t make sense. Unravel takes a unexpected turn as you traverse through construction yards and machinery that seem to be polluting the land. While I admire the message that they are sending by showing that polluting is bad, I didn’t understand what it had to do with the story necessarily.
While the platforming and problem solving is not Unravel’s greatest strength, the music and levels designs are. There is some substance to this game in spite of what more cynical people may tell you. There is a story being shown to us by the silhouettes of people that Yarny comes across and collects. It may not be clear about what exactly happens to the family in the end, but there are moments of sadness and death as there are happiness and joy as well. Unravel is an experience.
Chances are you will not do everything there is to do in Unravel. Fortunately, you can go back and find the hidden buttons in each level; five in each to be exact. After playing through the first time, you will have such an easier time getting through the levels and collecting. For that reason, it can also come as a bit boring as you will already know how to traverse the game.
Unravel is a game that takes moments and memories that people can relate to, in some way, and tugs at the heart with the yarn that connects it. While it isn’t exactly laid out in front of us in the game, all of us are getting older, and while younger gamers may not appreciate it yet, as older gamers will, and whether or not Coldwood Studios meant to convey this message; Unravel shows us that life is a series of moments and Yarny may be an amalgamation that connects those memories that we call life, because for many, life is just that…a series of moments and memories.
*Product was paid for by reviewer