For the most part, I play action and adventure games. Shooters and RPGs are what I enjoy most. This said, I also enjoy other games, but usually wait for reviews and suggestions from friends. As much as this is the case, I was pretty interested in ColdWood’s Unravel when I saw it at E3. When EA revealed the game, the whole crowd seem to be excited about the heartfelt presentation. Initial indications were that it was going to be a cute little platformer that should be a delight. I was quite looking forward to it’s release.

Fast forward to now, I am pleased to report that I quite enjoyed Unravel. The game has interesting mechanics, varying levels of difficulty, and the overall calmness and environments in the game were pleasant. Yarny is a great mascot for the brand as well, he has all the points needed to connect with the players. He has a simple structure and several fans have been making their own version. Lets take a deeper dive into the game and see what makes it great and what ColdWood could have done better.

Unravel_Envrionment

As with most modern games, the graphics are very stylized but also well done. The most standout aspect of Unravel is the difference in speed between the foreground and background of the environment. As you move forward in the level, the background moves a bit slower as if the player is looking into the distance as they move. It gives a very neat perspective to the game as you platform around solving the puzzles. The details are impressive boasting crisp lines, light and fun particle effects, and the environments are fluid. The branches, snow, water, and other pieces of the environment all fall in line with each other and add to the overall pleasant experience.

Subtle orchestral arrangements accompany the entire game and gives it a very serene ambiance. The music ranges from smooth, calming tones during early portions of the level to increasingly fast paced sounds where there are high stress areas of the level. This really help set the mood and gave each level a particular feeling and mood. The overall mood of the game is one of reflection, and this is slowly conveyed through the audio. Gameplay wise, very little is articulated well. By far, the audio is the most effective portion of Unravel.

Unravel_Water

While the ambiance is intended to be one of sadness and reflection, of nostalgia and peace at the same time this was the only part of the game that really stood out. When we take a look at what was actually going on I found myself disappointed. An attempt is made to tell the entire story via mirage-like images placed at strategic points in the background, and via an overall scrapbook placed at the home platform portion. As nice as these are, its not enough to really tell the whole story. At the conclusion of the game, I was actually pretty confused as to why I was traveling throughout these levels and around the environments. I saw the challenges, the obstacles, but could not find reason in it all. A lack of purpose and reason to play is acceptable in older platforms, or ones which are not making an attempt. But what was most disappointing, was that a clear effort was made and fell short. What Unravel did convey was a very pleasant overall calm and peace as you played. At no time did I feel a need to rush, to get overly frustrated, or have a sense of urgency. It was a very nice change of pace away from the action and shooters that saturate the market.

The actual gameplay left me feeling as though I needed a bit more of a challenge. There were some points in the game in which the difficulty varied, however it didn’t seem to flow. The difficulty seemed to peak in the middle of the game, instead of having it’s climax at the end. I often felt as though I would switch between playing very tough levels then returning to the second level again. On the other hand, the game difficulty did coincide with some dark levels of the game. These levels were underground, some displaying toxic waste but unfortunately there was no clear explanations as to why it was there.

The initial levels were great introductions, with only half of the first needed for getting the basics down. As far as introductions go, the first level was constructed extremely well. I had no issue understanding what was being said, and found several of the hidden “secrets”. From there though, there really wasn’t a whole lot of change. Once or twice I had a major head scratching moment, but for the most part it was the same few mechanics over and over. While this made for a very simple game, it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I’d of hoped. Things never got more difficult, and it felt like the same basic level structure were used back to back to back with only the environment changed. It could be that the game was intended for a younger audience, and I can certainly see this being friendly to them.

While the game has beautiful graphics and environments, a calming ambiance and outstanding music it fell short when it came to actual gameplay and mechanics. That being said it was a fun experience that many will find endearing.

Unravel_Yarny_Cold

Unravel - Review
The Good
  • Calming overtones
  • Beautiful soundtrack
  • Simple, yet fun
The Bad
  • Poor storytelling
  • Not much increasing challenge
  • Few mechanics
7.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Bobby C
Director, Editorial/Reviews

Bobby C is a veteran FPS and adventure gamer, starting with the NES and Super Mario Bros. The game that really started his love for the FPS Genre was Goldeneye for the N64. Since then, the love grew. From casual, to semi-pro COD with Modern Warfare 2 and 3, and back to casual, it’s a bad week when there isn’t at least 15 hours of games played.