Spinning a yarn(y) again…
Game: Unravel 2
Developer: Coldwood Studios
Reviewed on: PS4 (Review code provided)
Announced and released on the same day (A technique referred to by our very own Jonathan as “Doing the Full Beyonce”, Unravel 2 came as a wonderful surprise at this year’s E3 (at least, if you’d ignored the rumours). Having thoroughly enjoyed Yarny’s first outing, and I was intrigued to see where the addition of co-op play could end up taking the franchise. Fortunately, it’s in the right direction, and I’m really pleased to say that I enjoyed it almost as much as the first game.
As mentioned, the big hook this time round is the addition of a second Yarny. Never explicitly referred to by name, the “blue Yarny” can either be controlled by a second player, or switched to with a tap of the Triangle button if you’re playing solo. It’s a really neat mechanic that serves to turn the entire game on its head, adding a host of new ways to solve the puzzles that litter the 7 chapters of the main game.
Thematically, it’s very similar to the first outing. 2D platforming with wonderful 3D backdrops serve to provide an enjoyable environment to play in, with the puzzles providing a suitable challenge, but never straying into the infuriating territory that some criticised the first game for. The 2-player system works to the game’s advantage here, with the second character being needed to occasionally provide an anchor point to swing off, either through jumping over an obstacle or standing still and allowing the other player to do their best Spider-Man impression using their help. The controls feel like they’ve been tightened up substantially from the first game, with Yarny feeling a little bit less “overly floaty” and instead having a more deliberate feel to the movement.
Much like the first game, there’s a secondary story being told under the surface, told through mysterious shadows and hazy visions. While this is a nice thing to see, it doesn’t quite live up to the emotional mark that the first game set. Unravel had a gut punch at the end that stuck around for a long time, whereas Unravel Two didn’t have that same feeling for me. It almost made me wonder whether it was entirely necessary, pondering if they could have, instead, focused solely on the two Yarnies, free of any other emotional weight.
In addition to the relatively short primary story, Unravel Two keeps you interested with a series of challenge rooms, along with plenty of collectibles throughout the 7 chapters. There are some interesting new mechanics introduced toward the end of the game as well, which definitely add a new dimension into the play. I played through the entirety of Unravel Two on my own, and switching between the two characters never hampered my enjoyment of the game, especially as you can “combine” the two characters and run through areas as a solo character if you so wish. You can change your Yarny’s appearance if you want to as well, either through offering up a new colour or by altering the head design. It’s a neat little touch which just gives that little bit more customisation and helps make your Yarny “yours”.
Ultimately, it’s quite difficult to write a lengthy review of Unravel Two without going over everything good about the first game and stating “Yep, it’s more of that”. It sounds incredibly derivative to say so, but it’s true, and that’s not a bad thing. Unravel Two takes everything great about the first one and refines it to the point that it is a joy to play, with plenty of gorgeous scenery to take in. The addition of a second player could have complicated things beyond belief, but everything has been thought out extremely well, and only serves to enhance what was there before. My only real complaint is the lack of weight behind a sometimes confusing secondary story which, while not taking away from anything, fails to add much.