Unravel Two Review
During last year’s E3 show EA debuted Unravel Two for the PS4 and Xbox One and I remember turning to James (cohost of Nintendo Times Radio) and commenting that a game like that would be perfect on the Nintendo Switch. It turns out the developers at Coldwood Interactive thought so too, since it has finally arrived for Nintendo’s hybrid system! Although the timing could have probably been better since Yoshi’s Crafted World arrives during the same week as this game, but there’s definitely room for both on your Switch.
Having never played the original, Unravel Two does an exceptional job of teaching the ins and outs of the various gameplay elements during the first level. You play as Yarny, a small hero made out of (you guessed it) yarn! Unlike the first game, this one features optional two-player co-op where you and a friend can navigate the 2.5D levels together. At its heart this game is a puzzle platformer with less emphasis on defeating enemies and more on figuring out how to overcome obstacles in your path. In some ways the game reminded me slightly of the excellent Inside, but with a lighter and more playful tone.
Whether you have a friend to play alongside you or not, you’ll always have Yarny and his friend at your disposal. I know that some of you might be thinking that controlling two characters simultaneously sounds like a chore, but in this case it’s actually quite fast and easy to do and adds a whole layer of gameplay mechanics to the puzzle solving. Both characters are connected by yarn, which means that you’ll have to figure out how to traverse the various terrains together. At any point they can merge together to form one, so running from one point to another is easy as can be. Separating out will be necessary to pass specific points in the stages. For example, there might be a ledge that’s too high to reach. One of the characters can be used to push a rock closer to the wall and the other can then hop up on the rock and reach the ledge. Since both characters are connected via string the other can then just be hoisted up to join his pal.
All throughout the game are segments where you’ll have to use your brain to figure out how to proceed. From grappling on hooks to tying knots to create a trampoline bridge to using one of the characters like a weight and the other as a pendulum, there’s plenty of ways to maneuver about the world. Half the fun is figuring out the solution to the problem, and the other half is being skilled enough to pull it off.
The game’s presentation is rather striking. Although you’re controlling almost cartoon-like yarn characters, the environments look almost photo-realistic. You’ll start off stranded on a beach and make your way through a lush forest. Eventually you’ll get to explore a wide variety of locales, including an industrial zone, a kids’ playground, and a host of various buildings. Your characters are small in stature, so the scenery often towers above them. In some ways this reminded me of the niche GameCube game Chibi-Robo and it’s always fun to explore a world as a smaller character.
Graphically the game looks and performs great on the Switch. The animations of Yarny and his companion are fantastic and the attention to detail is obvious in every sector of the game. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to try Unravel Two out on any other platforms, I can tell the Switch is struggling with some of the textures and backgrounds not displaying in as high of a resolution as competing systems. That being said, the game is far from ugly and I quite liked the graphics overall. I especially really like the care that was taken in properly lighting the levels, which adds a lot to the presentation. Plus the water effects are gorgeous.
I was also impressed with the audio throughout the adventure. The game has a sort of has a chill soundtrack that’s not overbearing but tugs at the heartstrings at the right moments. I liked the story the game tells via memories playing in the background at select moments. You witness some kids trying to escape from a place and although there’s no voice or text propelling the scenes along, I couldn’t help but become invested in the characters and wonder what became of them. The audio plays a big role in making these segments resonate with the player.
I had a really great time with Unravel Two. It’s not a game that was really on my radar, but I’m glad I took the time to check it out. The gameplay is fun and the puzzle solving, although usually nothing too complex, is satisfying. Although my initial thought was that the game might be more difficult single player since I’d have to control both characters myself, I discovered that in some ways the game is more challenging when playing with a friend because you have to coordinate with another person. No matter which way you decide to tackle this adventure, you’re bound to have a good time.
Unravel Two Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 8.5/108.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Unravel Two is a charming game with compelling level design and fun gameplay mechanics. This isn’t your typical action-platform experience, as you’ll encounter plenty of small puzzles to solve to progress though the stages. Another great game for the Switch!
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.