It seems that Coldwood have a thing about releasing games with minimal fanfare, as they shadow dropped the game when it was first released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, and now with the Switch release, there was almost no time between announcement and release, but does the charm of Yarny, carry across to Switch?
Unravel Two continues the story of Yarny, the little creature made from red yarn, but unlike the first, where the game started off light and got darker, before getting light again, Unravel Two starts out at its darkest and slowly builds towards the light. Yarny is on a boat, that is caught in some severe weather and finds himself getting thrown overboard and whilst trying to use his thread to pull himself back aboard, it snaps, and he is washed away. Soon he wakes up on land and immediately meets up with a blue Yarny, who I shall now call Yarnold and both of them have loses threads, but when they meet, the threads combine and the two become woven together.
At its core, Unravel Two is a story about loss, but more than that, it is about finding light in the darkness and no matter what might be happening, there is always someone there to support you. It is a strong message to be sure, but the game actually tells another story in the background, literally, while you play through the main story line, another story plays out in the background of the same levels and while no words are spoken, it is another strong message, about working together. The problem is with both stories, there is no clear explanation on what causes things to happen, or when they end, what was going on, it’s all up to your interpretation of what you are being shown.
One part where the game requires almost no explanation is in the gameplay, the experience from the first game, to the second is much more refined and provides a tighter experience across the board, but just none more so in the platforming. The game is first and foremost a platformer, with the occasional puzzle thrown in, which helps to break up the just running and jumping of the platforming parts. When you get to a puzzle, sometimes the solution is obvious, sometimes it is not, the good news, is that you can try again and again, as often as you want, in almost all puzzles, as there are no time constraints and only a few have danger about them.
Much like in the first game, you can swing yourself around, if you tie your thread to a point, but now, with the addition of Yarnold, you can do it from anywhere as well. As long as one character remains up high, the other character can lower themselves down and begin the process of swinging around, in fact there are a few times when you need to do that in concert, swapping back and forth between the two, in order to progress. Of course, if you play the game with a friend, you will each take control of one character each and then you need to work together to proceed, it is these parts, where you need to have the two characters working together, where the game shines the best.
Some puzzles will require you to stand in specific places, but as the thread that connects the two, is not limitless, there is a little trial and error, when trying to get both characters to the right spot. There are a few puzzles that require use of other items, to help you launch yourself up, or getting to another ledge, these are fun and there is one in particular that requires some creative thinking to complete. The reason that you would want to make sure you master the skills, is that each stage has a number of extra sparks floating around, they are not hidden per say, but they do unlock more options after the game ends, also allows you to replay levels, once you have mastered some of the mode advanced moves.
Playing it on Switch, actually helped cover up an issue I had with the original release and that is the games length, not only was the game short, but it offered very little reason to venture back in once done, but not so here. On Switch, being able to pick up the console and play a level or attempt some of the challenges, whenever I had a spare bit of time, was actually something I enjoyed, the challenges especially. Some of them can get quite tricky, so being able to pop the system into sleep mode, to give myself some time to cool down, was very much appreciated. While that was good, it still does not keep the overall length from being to short, the game can easily be completed in a single sitting as the main story only lasts a few hours and while it is good, it could have been better.
One aspect of the game, that I can get behind I the presentation, it blends more photo realistic looking spaces, with a heck of a lot of charm, something that many games fail to achieve, but Yarny and Yarnold sadly, don’t mix in so well. Walking through the wooded areas, there is plenty to see, lots of depth, light rays shining through the branches and such, it really is a sight, the problem is Yarny looks more plastic than anything, when you place him in front of things and pull the camera back. The times when the camera gets close to Yarny and Yarnold, you can see all the little fibres sticking out from them and they look right, but when the camera pulls back, they look wax-like and it’s strange. Of course, as the Switch version had to make cuts to overall presentation quality from the other releases, things look a little less detailed, but not by much, the difference is actually quite small and if you have never seen the other platforms in motion, you would not notice anything amiss.
The audio design, however, is one I can get behind 100%, the score is a mix of quiet and calm beats, but suitably ramps up, whenever the action does, but thankfully, it does not sound like it’s from another game, the themes still play through. A lot of the music comes from a Violin, which is strange to think of as the lead instrument, but when you are stuck, trying to work out a puzzle, having a nice soothing track behind the game, just playing softly, is a treat. There are no vocal performances here and I think that is another notch in the games favour, everything you see from the characters is conveyed via expressions and it works.
Brining Unravel Two to Switch is something that seemed like a no brainer, I even asked the devs at E3 last year about it and now experiencing the game on the go, it feels better than before. While the length might be an issue elsewhere, the levels and challenges feel perfect for the Switch, giving you micro gaming moments, whenever you have the time, now if only the first game came over as well, Switch would be the home of Yarny for sure.
Review copy provided by Electronic Arts Australia