Unbound: Worlds Apart launched on the PC and Switch last year, and has now made it over to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well. It’s a lovely indie puzzle platformer – here’s our review.
Back in 2020, Unbound: Worlds Apart was one of those games we really wanted to try at trade shows, but as those weren’t happening we played a Steam demo instead and did a developer interview as well. It was one of the standout indies of that year for us, so it’s great to see it getting a wide release across all major platforms.
In Unbound, you’re Soli, a young mage who has the ability to open up circle-shaped portals between two worlds – think Dr Strange, if you’re into the Marvel universe. There’s a fairly bare-bones story about stopping a terrible evil, but the Unbound is firmly gameplay-focused, with little in the way of character and narrative development.
That’s not an issue though, as the portal-opening mechanic is a strong driving force for the game, letting you do things like invert gravity, changing the flow of time or simply letting you pass an area that was otherwise impossible to get through. And while casting portals might seem like a gimmick, the game uses 10 different types for a wide variety of puzzles. They’re introduced one by one so you don’t get lost either, and after using one they all tend to feel rather intuitive in how to use their powers – a testament to good game design as you’re faced with many different mechanics but never feel overwhelmed.
Another good example is that Unbound – Worlds Apart is structured a little bit like a semi-open world with metroidvania elements, forcing you to backtrack after you unlock new skills. This could cause confusion, but the map does a great job and letting you know where you left off when you went back to use your new skill elsewhere. The game is not too difficult either, so you also feel like you’re making progress when you’re backtracking, and never like you’ve just hit a wall.
What also helps in enjoying Unbound is that the art style is lovely to look at, with tons of hand drawn artwork that really make this 2D world come alive. There’s always an ‘alternate version’ of each level as well, and creating portals lets you see this. This makes the whole portal mechanic something that’s both functionally and visually interesting, because that other layer can look drastically different but with just as much attention to detail as the one you’re in. A subtle soundtrack enhances the magical feel of the adventure as well, and paces itself to be in sync with the adventure on screen.
Playing the full version of Unbound: Worlds Apart was a good reminder of why we were drawn to the game back in 2020 in the first place. This is a must-play for fans of indie puzzle platformers.