Today we’re looking at Unravel Two, which was simultaneously announced and released during E3 as one of EA’s surprises for this year. Available on PS4, Xbox One and PC, we checked the PS4 version.
With so many games at E3 showing little more than a cinematic trailer and no release date in sight, Unravel Two was extremely refreshing with its immediate launch. Things were a little different for the first game almost three years ago, which was announced just before the summer and showcased several times after that. I remember meeting with Coldwood’s developers during this cycle as well, who revealed that many of the story aspects were inspired by real life – including the use of photos of people they know. They weren’t recognizable in Unravel, but it shows how personal Yarni’s journey was for its developers.
I loved Unravel, but if I’m perfectly honest its story didn’t resonate as much with me as its developers probably wanted. Instead, I was mesmerized by the gorgeous visuals and the fun and mostly intuitive puzzle scenarios the game threw at me. Sure, Yarni had a tendency to be a little finicky in terms of the control – especially when jumping – but the game’s shortcomings were easy to forgive. I would have been perfectly content playing another game just like it….
In a way, that’s what Unravel Two is, but it’s actually better and more enjoyable from my perspective. There’s less emphasis on story, Yarni controls better than before, and instead of story emphasis the game now has a brand new way to play. You can still play Unravel Two as a single player adventure (like the first one), but the game also has a cooperative multiplayer mode that makes it one of the best multiplayer puzzle platformers around.
At the start of the game, Yarni finds himself shipwrecked and needs to figure out a way to get out of his dire situation. Luckily, he quickly encounters another ‘yarn creature’ and together they embark on their quest. This is equally true in single player, where you’ll carry around your buddy by intertwining your yarn strands and will switch between characters when it’s time to cooperate on puzzles.
Both characters can also serve as each other’s lifeline when one of them makes a jump and the other plummets down. He’ll be able to climb right back up using the yarn that connects them, which is a nice feature when one of the players is better at platforming than the other. Meet your demise, however, and you’ll both be reset to the nearest checkpoint.
The actual gameplay will be instantly recognizable to players who played the first game. You can only travel so far before Yarni unravels too much and runs out of yarn, and will have to reach checkpoints by overcoming obstacles and puzzles. You can use your yarn to pull objects, create walkways or trampolines, as well as various other solutions that connect nicely to the game’s backdrops and the objects that inhabit the different levels.
There are only seven levels available so the main story can unfortunately be over relatively quickly. I found the campaign in Unravel Two to be more rewarding than the one in the first game though, and that’s mostly because I played it cooperatively. Playing together and discussing how to tackle a problem works great with Unravel’s dynamics, and once you complete the campaign you can at least try to tackle the game’s twenty or so challenges. If you’re hungry for even more you can chase additional trophies, collectibles and medals as well – stretching out the game despite a fairly short story mode.
Single player mode suffers a little from the inclusion of coop, as it can feel like you’re dragging around your buddy a little too much at times. Of course you literally carry him around, but having to switch characters and control both can feel like it impairs your ability to solve a puzzle as quickly on-screen as you did it in your head. Cooperative play doesn’t have that problem, and I definitely recommend playing Unravel Two that way.
Not surprisingly, Unravel Two features the same kind of beautiful backdrops and animations that graced the first game. There’s a ton of attention to detail and this makes the game a fairytale-like and almost cinematic experience even for those who aren’t playing the game but just watching it. I was a little sad it got so quiet around Unravel after the game’s release, but the surprise sequel more than makes up for it – even if it’s best enjoyed with a second player.