Review: Unravel (PS4)

Platformer
7.6

Good

review-unravel

One of the most surprising things announced at last year’s E3 came from the EA demo, and it came in the form of a red, woollen doll. Yarny, being as adorable as he is, already made his way into our hearts and stood out from the rest of the games. Now, less than a year later, we get to play the game that is Unravel.

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The opening gives you a great introduction for what is to come. An old lady walks into view, looks at a photo of a baby, adjusts it and picks up her basket of yarn. Before she leaves, one ball of yarn drops off only to give birth to Yarney, the protagonist of the game. He wakes up, bewildered by his new surroundings, but specifically the faded photo album on the table in the room. Now, it’s his job to find a way to bring back those forgotten memories.

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Finding missing memories with Yarny

Using the framed photos found in other rooms, Yarny can travel to new destinations looking for the missing knitted brooches. Right off the bat, you’ll be mesmerised by how beautiful the game looks. The exquisite detail in Yarny’s immediate vicinity and the wonderful blur in the background, gives the game a very intimate and homey feel. Each level in the game is a new destination that is beautifully rendered and visually articulated, all while keeping that Scandinavian feel.

Accompanying the beautiful imagery, is the music. There isn’t a single word that is spoken in the game, so in order to bring about lots of emotion, music is brought in to fill in the blanks. The composer did a great job in bringing the right emotions to the game, particularly from the middle of the game onward. I did find the music a little too loud on default, so I’d recommend lowering it before playing.

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When Yarny Disappoints

What didn’t quite grab me was, sadly, the story and the game itself. First, the game. Unravel is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer, so you’ll be doing a lot of jumping, swinging and moving objects around. To do this, you’ll be using the yarn that Yarney is made of. You can lasso the wool to pull objects or lift yourself to higher places. You can tie a piece of string to two pillars and create a trampoline/bridge. It’s fairly straightforward and the control learning curve is pretty simple.

Puzzle-wise, everything is incredibly easy, but I have recently finished The Witness, so everything feels easy by comparison. As a platformer, the design is very lacklustre and not very challenging. There are some parts of the levels that just require walking. The game is heavily reliant on moving objects to gain access to higher areas and simply swinging from one side of the room to another. If you’re looking for a game that will test your skill, then you won’t find it here.

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I heard that many people praised its story, but I honestly don’t see it. The story, as it were, is basically Yarny filling in the photo album. During his journey you’ll see flashes of what went on in this particular family’s life. It’s very obscure and many of the images in the photo album have no meaning or context. For example, a photo of flowers isn’t going to give me a lot of family history. It does, eventually, make sense but it’s not very original.

When Yarney Succeeds!

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What does work remarkably well, and is Unravel’s saving grace, is Yarny himself. Despite the fact that he looks like a woolley doll, he acts completely human. In fact, he reminds me of a child. Not only is he completely adorable, but his character is very human. From the way he walks, shivers and falls, to the way he looks at fluttering butterflies or the love he feels when he finds a new missing album brooch. That realism and love that Yarney provides is the very thread that holds the game together. Without this brilliant character, Unravel wouldn’t be much.

Yarny, just like you’d expect, manages to dig into your being and wants to stay there. It’s not the brilliant platformer I was expecting, and certainly doesn’t have the story I’ve heard people rave about, but it does have a lot of charm. And the best news is, the price for this game is so low, it’s hard to pass it up.

Good

  • BEAUTIFUL! | Wonderful Music | Easy Learning Curve | YARNEY!

Bad

  • Very simple | Bland Platformer

Summary

Get ready to Unravel the cutest character ever.
7.6

Good

Gameplay - 6
Visuals - 9
Audio - 9
Gratification - 6
Value for money - 8
I R 'Kaal'gat Kyle!
  • Loftus ~ Sic Parvis Magna

    I will support this indie game.

    • SauRoN

      Published by EA…so not very Indie.

      • Jarred

        Still an indie developer though. A lot of Indie games get published by the bigger studios.

        • Scienide

          so is it AAA or not? :p

          • Jarred

            Very much an Indie game.

        • SauRoN

          Last I checked the term indie specifically referred to “self published”.

          Essentially once a big publisher picks it up..then it’s immediately no longer Indie in the true sense of the word.

          But these days…everything the majority doesn’t like is Indie, so who cares.

          • Jarred

            Nope, indie refers to an independent company in terms of its development, so it doesn’t belong to anyone but themselves.

            EA can fund their development but nobody from EA will actually develop. And EA don’t own the company.

            Same as many of the games that are published by Sony and Microsoft. Still indie developed games.

          • SauRoN

            It’s not set in stone as evidenced by the “usually” in the text below.

            “Independent video game development is the video game development process of creating indie games; these are video games, commonly created by individual or small teams of video game developers and usually without significant financial support of a video game publisher or other outside source. ”

            To me Indie = Independant…and therefore receiving any funding or even assistance from the likes of EA no longer makes it Indie.

            But anyway in general I’m not crazy about properly Indie stuff anyway…for the lack of direction and financial support so I”m all for EA punting this one as it makes it a better game than it would have been otherwise.

            I was just pointing out that strictly speaking this one is sort of having it’s cake and eating it.

            Further proof, the game’s own Wiki page doesn’t even dare call itself Indie.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unravel_(video_game)

            Unlike say Fez which is properly Indie.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fez_(video_game)

  • Raidz19

    It’s weird that they made it so simple. Could it be that they are only targeting kids? but kids won’t appreciate the beauty of it…

    • TechniKyle

      I don’t know who the target market is. Maybe keeping it simple was just another way to admire its beauty?

      • Raidz19

        mmmmh perhaps… but I don’t have enough money to pay for admiration alone

  • AchtungBaby_

    That’s disappointing. Having just been slightly disappointed by Firewatch I’m not quite ready to give another indie a try unless it’s got absolutely rave reviews. I’ll wait for a special or maybe when it comes onto PS Plus.

    • Scienide

      yeah Firewatch did not keep my attention, however i loved unravel

    • TechniKyle

      Maybe wait for a sale?

  • Thomas Morrison

    i thought this game was awesome – finished it last night. easily a 9/10 for me. thought it had quite a powerful message too… nice to play something different. best looking game i have played in a long time…

  • SauRoN

    Come on guys, where is the proofreading?

    I see two simple and obvious mistakes with one quick scan, especially ironic when talking about how disappointing the game is…

    • I think I found it, and you can point fingers my way. Thanks for pointing it out.

      • SauRoN

        Nope.

        Paragraph 1 : As adorable as he his.

        Then later there is “so you’ll be doing a lot jumping”

        I think the other more obvious ones you did fix already.

        • Shot, all should be in order now.

  • I’ve not played enough at all to leave my impression of what I think of it so far, but I’m surprised to see the mixed reviews from all over the show. Some love it, others don’t.

  • SauRoN

    I’m finally playing this now and it’s stupidly good.

    I don’t agree with the “Very simple | Bland Platformer” comment at all.

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