Unravel Review – A New Standard for 2D Puzzle Games
If you haven’t heard before, I’m not one for puzzle games. I just do not have the patience to persevere and when the answer finally is revealed, and its been staring me in the face the whole time, I usually feel like turning the whole thing off. Take Limbo for example, a game I decided to finally play because Inside looked amazing and it was now free on Xbox One. Unfortunately I couldn’t even finish Limbo, the puzzles just kept getting tougher! So although it was a favorable game Playdead, I gave up. Inside however, really stuck with me.
Most fans of E3 will remember the moment Martin Sahlin appeared on stage in 2015 with Yarnie in hand. In case some of you didn’t watch E3, what was so special about this moment was that it was the most visually stunning game shown by EA that night. It wasn’t a huge title, or a game that had been hotly anticipated for decades, it was an indie game about a character made of yarn and his totally heart warming story. Not only that but there had already been the usual squabbling between the big companies with comments thrown left and right, and then suddenly, Sahlin brought us back to what really matters in gaming. Creating games that players ultimately fall in love with. Stories and characters we never forget, and the fact they pulled this off with a 2D puzzle game has amazed me. If you didn’t see its big reveal you should definitely watch it below, and for a spoiler free review I would say you should definitely play this game, it will surprise you.
As I said, Unravel totally surprised me, and now having played the game, it seems so appropriate that in fact it was a gift. You play as Yarnie in this game, a small character made of yarn with a big heart. Throughout the game you travel through your creator’s memories, collecting a trophy at the end that reveals a little more about their life. The game is intensely personal, and even though all the chapters could be entirely made up you do feel as though you’re growing closer to the person who has lived this life. I think games can be much like writing, because after all, they’re stories, and I think it’s clear when someone, or a team, has a spent a lot of time with one. It’s obvious in Unravel that this game is personal to Coldwood, and by the end it feels personal to you. With these guys it wasn’t about the money, it was about creating a game that we’d love and I think that will always be a major difference between indie studios and big developers.
Specifically, the graphics are beautiful, the physics are spot on, and yes you do actually unravel as you progress. Though it can be frustrating to find yourself running out of yarn just before you reach the next lot, I will say this is usually easily solved by going back and untying a few things. Of course there were times I was annoyed, but this in itself was nothing to do with the game, but rather myself as a player!
How Coldwood managed to capture such a heart warming story, I’ll never know, besides the fact that they must really have done their research and focused on the art of making a great game. Both Limbo from Playdead, and Unravel, have set the bar very high and I can’t wait to see what they bring out next.