March 13, 2016

As I write this, I have owned my Playstation 4 for a week. The first game I played, and finished, was Firewatch. It was a great game in every way, but I think Unravel actually goes a few steps beyond in my book.

In every way, too.

Not only is it a game straight from the heart, love pouring out of every pixel, it is also more complex and involved gameplay-wise.

And it is beautiful. Almost achingly beautiful.

Sound, music, visuals, animation, every single element shines. The levels are intricate, filled with details large and small, yet never feel too full of detail or difficult to figure out.

But what is it?

Unravel is a puzzle-style platform game taking place in northern Sweden. Yarny is a small character created of red yarn, and you control it as it travels through these stunningly beautiful levels of Swedish coutryside, collecting … well, memories, really.

A story is told, one so full of emotion that I finished the game and watched the credits with a lump in my throat. You do not need to know anything about Sweden to appreciate the game, but for those of us who do, there are a million details which bring additional smiles to our faces (or childhood memories, for that matter).

In control

Yarny is easy to control and has a handful of abilities, combined with varying environments to form a surprisingly wide and creative range of puzzles and obstacles. Pits, water, machines and animals all need to be dealt with, but a restart point is never far off. Unravel strikes a very good balance, creating challenges which made me think but never got me stuck for too long and rarely made me even a little frustrated. I never needed to look for help. Best of all, many times a sudden challenge appeared I managed to grasp and execute the right solution immediately. Few things are as satisfying, and I can not think of any other game which managed to give me that satisfaction so often. (I also can not imagine how much thinking, testing and tweaking it must have taken to get it all to feel so natural.)

If you enjoyed Journey, you will enjoy Unravel too. Be prepared for markedly more of a gameplay challange, but rest assured it is a fair challenge and so completely worth it.

The hard part

The tough question is this: which game is the worthy third after Firewatch and Unravel?