Unravel EA Access Trial Thoughts/Review (Xbox One)

Unravel is a tale of love and family. At the beginning we see an older woman sitting at the table, seemingly contemplating something. As she moves around we see pictures of family on the desk and walls. She proceeds upstairs with her sewing supplies, stopping to fix a crooked picture. As she moves up the stairs, a ball of yarn falls and rolls back over to the table. After a brief moment, Yarny, a red yarn creature emerges. He is looking around in awe at the world, as if he has just been born.

The player then can instruct him to walk over to a table where a photo book sits. Opening the book reveals distorted, out of focus pictures. As you proceed in the room, you come to a picture. Upon examining the picture, Yarny is transported into that time and place to relive the memory.

Unravel is a tale about family, love and memories. You move through a level, experiencing the memory for the first time as a brand new creature in the world. The goal is to find a token to bring back and apply to the photo album from before. You encounter simple puzzles and platforming measures to bypass obstacles in the levels. Upon finding the token at the end, it restores some of the pictures in the album and you are able to see the time and interaction of family.

Gameplay is a side scrolling puzzler, where you as Yarny can use your body to interact with objects in the world. The game scales your size, making objects appear much larger. As you progress through a level and use your yarn to make bridges, or lasso other objects, you lose part of your body. You must find extra yarn that is placed in the world, to gain back your strength and continue. These refill areas also serve as checkpoints. The trial game allowed me to play 2 levels, Thistle and Weeds and The Sea.

Both levels are different and gorgeously designed. The backgrounds are breathtaking as we see 2 different surroundings. Thistle and Weeds, which also serves as an introduction to Yarny’s abilities, is a country setting, like on a farm. The Sea is a world of seaside forests and the ocean itself.

In Thistle and Weeds, you encounter typical farm type items like various plants and gardening tools. A mini tricycle can be used to move around. Areas in a garden require you to use a hose to fill up with water to progress to the next area. Yarny is seemingly a new life form in the world, taking in everything for the first time. A butterfly flies out of some bushes startling Yarny as he looks on in wonder and amazement. As you move through the level, you pass by apple trees and pass into a garden. You learn abilities that include lassoing objects, creating spring board type bridges, and the ability to interact with items in the world to help boost you to areas Yarny cannot readily jump to. The lasso ability gives the option to swing from point to point as well. As you progress through the level, there are secret flower patches that can be found.

There are also memories in the form of a magical dust, that reveal themselves as you pass by certain areas. Around are little interactions that really add to the story. Platforming off vibrant yellow sunflowers, swing a lasso on a bell by the side of a house, all enforce the sense of time and place. At the end of the level you gather your token and are sent back to the photo album. As you browse through it, the pictures that were distorted before are there in clear view and you notice some of the scenery in the pictures that you just played.

The second level, The Sea, sends you to a place of a coastal town. You start out in a forest and move along to the coast. Here you encounter the game’s first enemies – crabs. Dispatching them using in game mechanics you progress closer to the water and spend time swing off points as the water rushes in and out around a dock. Upon completing this level and gathering the token, I found the revived pictures in the album included specific details, such as children holding the crabs that served as enemies to Yarny.

One aspect of the game that stood out was the music. Ambient violin music softly plays in the background with a slight sad tone, keeping with the atmosphere that the Grandma at the beginning is seemingly revisiting her lost memories of family and friends. The game is silent with no words spoken and this strengthens the general temperament. Sounds in the game also enhance the environment. You can hear seagulls in The Sea, the wind blowing around, the surf crashing on the shore. Various bugs and birds chirping can be heard during Thistle and Weeds. The art design and levels are richly detailed and extend far into the background. There were no pixelations or abnormal points in the game. I only experienced one glitch on the 2nd level, which required me to reload and play again.

In conclusion, Unravel is an excellent tale of life, love and family. The art style and ambience of the game really enforce the creator’s passion and details of the story he is trying to tell. The melancholy music has a sense of hope while at the same time serving as reinforcement to the tale of sadness. What are your thoughts on Unravel? The game comes out February 9th; do you plan on picking it up? Let us know in the comments below!
+ Excellent Art style and atmosphere, perfect music and tone
+ Rich story
+ Excellent controls with modest puzzles
– Only one frustrating glitch that required a simple reload

No Score until final review.

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