Close your eyes for a moment and think about the last thing you loved, now remember that feeling. That feeling of warmth and happiness, sprinkled with security and a sense of belonging; it’s good enough to make your heart smile.
Unravel centers around Yarny, a small creature made of red yarn, who explores the world around him by using his own body. As Yarny moves, the twine which he is made of unravels, creating lines which the player must use to solve puzzles and progress in the game.
According to the game’s developer and creative director, Martin Sahlin, the yarn that makes up Yarny represents love, and that the character unravels as he travels away from what he loves. In its essence, this is Unravel, and how it makes you feel is love incarnate.
From the beginning, Unravel is a 2D sight to behold. Crisp with color, it’s like seeing the world anew. The environment breathes with each and every step you take, while you use the objects and the landscape around you to complete various tasks like wrapping your yarn around certain objects and hooks in order to further proceed or find your way back to the start of the game. There are wondrous ponds to cross, grass that sways in the breeze, and cartons and cans that you can push and pull towards you.
Then there’s Yarny himself. This tiny stick figure made of red yarn is filled with heartfelt expression and childlike curiosity. As Yarny goes about his tasks, walking further into the grasslands, traces of yarn unravel behind him. In case he gets lost, he always knows how to find his way back. You can use his yarn to grapple onto hooks and use it to form a bridge, and jumping on the unspooled pieces of yarn provides momentum to get to higher spots just out of reach. Water is not so kind to Yarny, so you must find a way to avoid rippling puddles or bouncing droplets from a well. Balancing on objects or using fallen apples also helps; each part of the environment becomes your tool.
Like most games, Unravel becomes more challenging the further you travel. The two levels that were available were rather simple at first. After leaving home, Yarny explores the world outside the sunny and welcoming backyard. You have to get past various objects such as sea-saws, and you also have to climb benches. Using your yarn, or using yarn that’s spread throughout the level, you lasso your way to the other side, lifting yourself up. Then there are more complicated puzzles where you have to form patterns with your yarn in combination with using items to launch yourself higher.
Despite all the puzzles and the various motions of the game, there’s an easy pace to everything which adds to the game’s delight. There will be moments when you have to stop playing in order to figure out how to approach the game, and while it’s easy for Yarny to sit there and do nothing, the developers did something clever about this. When Yarny is not in motion, he stares directly at you inquisitively; wondering what’s going on in that head of yours. There are moments when an image of a person passes by in the wind, making Yarny reach out to touch it. He’s in his own little world, taking pleasure in everything.
Unravel is a game built on love, personality and wonderment; reaching into your soul as you continue to play. The mechanics are simple and pleasant but never once do you become bored or unchallenged. This is a game for all to experience and is a privilege to play. It further proves you don’t need explosions or flashy gameplay in a title; just time and appreciation for beauty and life.
Unravel will release in 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2016.