After starting up ColdWood Interactive's latets game, Unravel on XBOX One, PS4 or PC, you'll instantly be struck by the game's remarkable beauty. The cinematics are genuinely breathtaking and invite you into a world of sumptuous color, adorable characters, beautiful music and heart-wrenching nostalgia.
There's no game that's perfect. Every creation has its flaws (though maybe Portal 2 is actually perfect). But simply because Unravel is far from a perfect game, does that mean it should be avoided? Is it worth taking the plunge and trying out? Let's take a look.
Unravel Review - A Flawed Beauty
Unravel tells the tale of the enigmatic Yarny. He lives in a cute little cottage with an old woman, whom we see pouring over pictures of her past at the outset of the game. Yarny then hops up from the table and approaches various framed photos in the house, each of which activate a memory. These memories are then basically relived by Yarny as he navigates various puzzles in different environments.
It's a cute setup and sets the tone for Yarny's adventures. The game is saturated with nostalgia and explores the painful but often beautiful recollection of our own memories. We feel like we're living the life of the game's developer, or potentially the old woman; relishing in the moments they enjoyed, experiencing the horrors they witnessed, and feeling their connection with the Swedish landscape and their family.It's something we can all relate to and it's the game's most powerful asset.
Though this message is poetic, emotional and often beautiful, Unravel fails to always captivate its players when it comes to its gameplay. At the outset, you'll be captivated by the ways in which Yarny navigates his surroundings. Whether it be the adorable way he pulls stones, how he carefully swings between tree branches, or how he ties his Yarn onto a ledge only to safely dangle from it above water.
You'll also be in love with the way his yarn trails behind him and eventually restricts him when he runs out of it. You'll have to complete every puzzle while making sure you don't get too knotted in the environments so that you can approach a new bundle of yarn and fill up your body once more.
The ideas are great, but they fail to go anywhere and quickly become repetitive. The game has nothing new to offer you in its final few levels, simply a new setting where you have to use the skills you learned in the first few levels in a different way. Whereas the likes of Ori and the Blind Forest kept us engaged with dramatic alterations to the game's basic mechanical functions, Unravel eventually bores with its unwillingness to change.
Speaking too much about Unravel's story can dampen the impact it can have on you while playing. It is rather moving and its visuals alone are enough to captivate. But with so many excellent platformers being created nowadays, Unravel can suffer under external pressure. It just doesn't meet the standards of the likes of The Swapper, Ori and the Blind Forest, Shovel Knight or even the Rayman games.
You could complain about Unravel being a bit on the short side, but seeing as its gameplay becomes tedious towards the end, perhaps its message is more impactful the less you engage with it. Unravel can be very beautiful and emotionally resonant, but if you're looking for an innovative platformer you may be sadly disappointed with what Yarny has to offer.