Coldwood Interactive’s Unravel is visually great, but houses a sometimes frustrating platformer behind it.
Yarny, the main yarn character, is one of the cuter characters to have been created in recent years. As he runs around the level, a trail of yarn gets left behind, making himself smaller as you progress. By backtracking, you can get the yarn back, but as you go forward again Yarny’s body will keep getting smaller again.
Placed strategically through levels are bundles of yarn Yarny uses to recomplete his body to keep progressing farther. One thing you’ll notice going through the games nine levels is that, if Yarny loses his yarn and can’t progress any more, there almost definitely is a pile of yarn nearby to find and absorb.
Besides gaining more yarn through levels, Yarny can also use the yarn trail he leaves behind to rappel down large ravines to save himself from possible death. Yarny can also lasso to knots far away to swing from the knot to another knot or anchor to the knot to return to it later on. The yarn can also be used to anchor between two nearby knots to make a trampoline or bridge.
As you progress through a stage, these different tactics get weaved together nicely. In one area, you may swing from knot to knot to get to the top of a dock before pushing an item down and over a bridge you made with yarn to get to a new area. The pacing of the game is also nicely done, introducing a new device to use in each level that builds on what you already know. You’ll never feel overwhelmed, but will feel challenged. However, there are a few tasks that become trickier than they should be due to Yarny’s jump.
Yarny sometimes has issues with precision jumping because of its flighty jump nature. Quick, precision jumps can be overshot by Yarny’s light nature, forcing you to backtrack and try again. The lasso is also sometimes hit or miss, going right through a knot that you need to connect to progress.
Additionally, some issues also appear with the split-second jumps. Sometimes, an object will suddenly rush at you, needing an instant jump. However, you’ll normally just be crushed, forced to respawn and remember what’s coming up to avoid it. It’s not the best way to teach, but you won’t fall for a quick death like this more than once when you know it’s there.
For a game with very few enemies (such as crabs and a terrible gopher) , there’s also a decent amount of dying that can happen from high falls, water and other perils. Death also plays a pivotal part in the story, but it’s told in a fairly interesting way that makes you want to keep playing through to see various snippets of the family’s life Yarny was a part of.
After going through the story, you won’t find a lot of reason to trek back through again unless you want to see more of the impressive graphics or try to collect the hidden badges in each level. Each level looks unique and is varied even as you go through the level. Plus, as you go along, the story plays out in shimmering memories in the background before becoming light you absorb, which can be seen later in a photo album.
Unravel is simplistic in design and easy to pick up and play, but challenging and a tad frustrating in some spots due to the jump. Still, the story is worth experiencing in this relatively short journey (lasting about five hours or so). Set aside some time this weekend to jump through with Yarny, if just to see the amazing graphics if nothing else.