Swedish game developer Coldwood Interactive’s adorable new 2D puzzle-platformer, Unravel, is quite the unusual game. It takes place in its creators’ homeland, where a little red ball of yarn – named, aptly enough, Yarny – explores the Swedish countryside. Yarny is both quirky and tiny, meaning that even mundane objects like chairs and fruit appear huge, let alone the relatively gigantic boulders and trees that pop up along the way.
Yarny unravels himself in order to create bridges and traverse gaps that range from small drains to imposing chasms. He can throw the front end of the yarn like a grappling hook, or grab the yarn that trails behind him and attach it to things. This enables climbing, tethering, grabbing, and plenty more, making for some detailed puzzle-solving mechanics.
Unravel’s main creative force, Martin Sahlin, created the game’s main character Yarny as a physical model, using scraps of old wool and wire. From there, Sahlin started to think about how the game mechanics would actually function. One of Unravel’s core conceits is that Yarny is attached to a specific point at the beginning of the level; as he moves from left to right, he slowly unravels until he can’t move any further. This provides the central challenge of the game.
The beautiful graphics (which look incredibly sharp, and at times even nearly photo-realistic) and physics engine combine to form a tight, detailed game, with loads of weight and texture to everything that you encounter in the environment. Yarny pushes and pulls objects to different spots, sometimes even using his yarn as a pulley; these objects can simply function as platforms to stand on, but are often used for their weight or momentum. Not unlike Limbo, Unravel is an exceptionally fun series of physics experiments.
The game also has a thematic core, built around ideas of familial love and the ties (or in this case, the balls of yarn) that bind us. Some puzzles require particularly creative uses of your abilities to manipulate yarn, and others have multiple solutions. Some require strategy and forethought, while others are more twitch-centric. An element of metaphor and meaning permeates every puzzle, which affords Unravel a good deal more emotional weight than your average platformer. Just remember: When things get tough, all you need to do is… well, hang in there!
Unravel will be available for Xbox One and Windows PC on February 9, but EA Access subscribers can check it out for a limited time right now!