You may have heard of the yarn-based game Unravel but if I was to show you a picture of the adorable main character, Yarny, you may put your attention more toward it than the actual game itself. That being said, the original Unravel, a 2.5D puzzle platformer which tasked players to use yarn as a way of succeeding in each stage, is a game a lot of players skipped or grew apart from. At E3 2018, Unravel developer, Coldwood Interactive, announced and released its sequel to a crowd of attendees at the press conference and viewers at home with most remembering the original only by its lovable yarn character.
The first game is more associated with its character, Yarny, than it’s gameplay. Fortunately, that’s not the case with its sequel. The original Unravel wasn’t a terrible game, it was just forgettable. The puzzles and level design was unique but there wasn’t enough to keep players devoted. Unravel Two learns from its predecessor’s mistakes and improves on its gameplay in every way.
Unravel Two’s biggest change is the addition to its cooperative multiplayer experience. Now, players have two playable Yarnys to overcome challenging platforming and puzzles with. The game isn’t solely dependent on having another player join you though. Players also have more control over the two Yarnys with responsive controls for the precision-based surroundings. The game’s story mode and bonus levels are completable without a companion’s help, though the experience with someone else provides you with an easier and faster completion rate.
Unravel Two’s levels give players an overall challenge with its puzzles while the design and beautiful settings satisfy its gameplay elements. The levels are mesmerizing being a small character of yarn traversing through a forest with photorealistic plants and gritty urban factories. There are times where you will want to stop progressing through a level to look at the background and environment around you.
Yarny’s skills have not changed from the original as the yarn-based abilities still allow you to make trampolines, rappel up and down cliffs, and swing across empty gaps. The good news is that now with the addition of a second Yarny, those abilities demand more attention during certain puzzles in order to progress. Solo wise, you will heed in certain areas but after apprehending the challenge, you can easily continue on. Co-op depends on you and your companion to collaborate and be on the same page as to overcoming the platforming. There will be times where mistakes are made, leading to Yarny dying a depressing death and having to go over what went wrong with the other player. Depending on your patience, this can be overwhelming or quite fun. The puzzles never gave a sense of impossibility as after a few fails, you and your friend will eventually solve the puzzle. Plus, the game gives very helpful tips if the player chooses to use them.
Repetitiveness occurs frequently throughout the game and can lead to some degree of boredom after a few levels. After a break, I found that the environment itself drew me back the next day to continue on. Unravel Two will have you swinging across bodies of water or pitfalls that lead to a terrible fate constantly in each level. It only stops to bring a new area of challenge every so often. In one sequence, I had to loop my yarn around a structure so many times so I could keep an object from falling on the other Yarny. Allowing the other Yarny to get to the other side of what once was blocked, to hit a button so both Yarnys could get to the same side.
Unravel Two is more about its platforming and gameplay than it is the story. The story is mysterious and throughout each level, you’re not sure what is truly going on. Each level’s foreground follows two ghostly characters of the past, a young boy and girl, as they run and hide from adults. The game gives these chasers a dark aura to them and every so often interrupts your movement by road blocking your progression by knocking into something that comes into your area of movement. What seems associated with these characters are these ember-filled enemies that kill Yarny with just a touch. Navigating around these enemies tasks players to rethink their strategies before moving on to the next area.
After the core story, Unravel Two offers 20 bonus levels to complete. These challenge levels crank up the difficulty and show the developer’s finest level design. Sometimes it may take 30 minutes to figure out one puzzle where it took that same amount of time to complete a level in the core mode. It is a great addition to the game that the original did not offer.
Another added touch to the game that was absent in the original is character customization. Players can now change the appearance of their Yarny with different heads, bodies, eyes, and shades of yarn. You obtain new Yarny patterns by completing the challenge levels that are scattered around the hub world.
The one problem I had with the production of the game instead of the actual game itself, is not having a release on the Nintendo’s Switch system. The developers recently said it would have slowed the release down 6 months for that to have been a reality. I think the Switch would have been one of the better systems to experience Unravel Two on, especially with the hybrid-console’s portable mode and the ease of passing a joy-con controller to another player for co-op.
Unravel Two’s story may be just as bland as the first game but it’s improved everywhere else. The controls have been tuned for precise movements and actions while the level designs are challenging enough to keep players intrigued in completing them while providing satisfaction. The addition to co-op gives the series a new feel to the gameplay and makes the experience more entertaining. The main game plus its bonus levels can all be completed solo but the cooperative feature is what makes the game enjoyable and how the game should truly be played. The addition of bonus challenge levels and character customization gives the game more playability and character respectively. The game can be repetitive and make players disinterested for a while but the detailed environments alone will have you wanting to see more.