I played the first Unravel across one sitting while recovering at home from a medical operation. It made me smile again, with its emotional journey and unique and brilliant premise. So when this year’s surprise E3 announcement was that a sequel was being released, you can imagine how excited I, and a whole host of gamers, were.
But there are differences between the original tale and Unravel 2, with the biggest that it now features two little yarn figures, allowing the tale to be taken in alone or with a friend via local co-op. But is it still a good, um, yarn?
You start the Unravel 2 adventure lost at sea, before very quickly becoming stranded on an island. Your yarn connection has been lost, but you need not worry because in a stranded suitcase is another different coloured Yarny. You quickly connect your pieces of fibre together and set off to explore the island.
From there you are basically taken through multiple chapters (there are seven in the main storyline), allowing you to explore the island and take in a magical journey. It’s a brilliant little adventure as well, exploring some amazing environments from stunning rivers to industrial warehouses. There is another story to be told as well – one with humans that the yarn twins basically affect and influence as well. Like the first installment, this human story is played out through ghostly figures in the background and it involves the exploits of two teenagers on the run from a religious boarding house of sorts; we see their journey through the island and to the final confrontation. This story isn’t, if I’m honest, as affecting or as emotional as the previous one that took us through a family’s history, instead focusing on the power of friendship. The cooperative spirit is all well and good, but it lacks that extra edge needed.
But other than the story, how does Unravel 2 play out gameplay wise?
Well, I’m going to come straight out with it, with no beating around the bush – I loved Unravel 2 from the very start to the utter end. So much so in fact that I found the gameplay more intuitive and much more interesting than the first game, with a simple yet stunning single player adventure that promises a whole host of extra cooperative fun.
And much of that enjoyment is found in jumping around the levels, and attaching onto special knots that propel you upwards or across obstacles. But that’s not all there is to the Yarny influence and you can also build bridges, use objects and, later on, utilise a very special ability.
The big difference in Unravel 2 when compared to the original game is that you are connected to your yarn sibling and can use that mechanic to help solve puzzles. In single player, this allows you to switch between the two with a click of the button, or combine them both together to form a strange symbiotic hybrid. There are many ways to combine yarn too, all in order to solve the tricky but not impossible puzzles that are on offer. There is a great combination of ways of attacking each level design.
Unravel 2 contains roughly 4 to 5 hours of gameplay, but there are loads of mini-challenges to complete, as well as special items to find mid-level. If you’re interested in nailing it 100% then you can add a few hours on to that initial tally. And for the most part, you won’t get frustrated or annoyed either as all the elements click together in a beautiful way.
Talking of beautiful, the characters’ design is still as charming as ever, and you can even change the appearance of your Yarny should you so wish. I love the whole design and visual tone, from the menus to the smallest details of each stage. Both the backgrounds and the world it creates are stunning, with some of the best environmental features ever seen on a console; I’ve never seen a stone look so beautiful. The soundtrack is also a thing of wonder and genius – mournful, whimsical and inventive that works in perfect unison with the gameplay.
I have had a great time with Unravel 2 and enjoyed it even more than the original game. The story isn’t as moving or emotional this time around, but the invention and co-op addition is very clever and works extremely well. It is beautiful to look at and even more sumptuous to listen to, and I for one can’t wait for another sequel to come along soon. Maybe the teams at Coldwood Interactive aand EA might feel like surprising us again at E3 2019 with a third game?
Who knows, but for now Unravel 2 is a great addition to a fantastic franchise.