Un­ravel

Knit’s land­ing

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! Pub­lisher EA

Re­viewed on PS4

Also on PC, Xbox One

Un­ravel isn’t the cloy­ing slice of in­die whimsy you were ex­pect­ing. It oc­ca­sion­ally lapses into trea­cly sen­ti­men­tal­ity, but there’s an edge to this pic­turesque puz­zle- plat­former from de­vel­oper Cold­wood. It’s there in knit­ted pro­tag­o­nist Yarny, who sits in the in­ter­sec­tion of the creepy/ cute Venn di­a­gram along­side the Moomins. It’s most ob­vi­ous, how­ever, in the myr­iad ways he can meet his end.

Un­ravel has a lot in com­mon with the bru­tal Limbo – though it’s not quite as dark and vi­o­lent. You’ll break branches to float across wa­ter and weigh down see- saws to cre­ate ramps. There’s even a hair- rais­ing set­piece in which you must es­cape a pur­su­ing crea­ture. And you’ll reg­u­larly find your­self dan­gling from ropes, shift­ing your weight back and forth to gen­er­ate enough mo­men­tum to carry you across yawn­ing gaps.

The key dif­fer­ence is that you’re sup­ply­ing your own threads, with Yarny at­tach­ing him­self to loops of red wool. This can be a tem­po­rary mea­sure, or you can tether your­self more thor­oughly. Bind­ing two nearby loops will of­ten cre­ate a tram­po­line, and they dou­ble as makeshift bridges, al­low­ing you to ferry move­able items to­wards plat­forms be­yond Yarny’s reach.

It’s when it mixes things up that Un­ravel most de­lights. Most of its puz­zles are sat­is­fy­ing to solve, given the to­tal ab­sence of hints and vis­ual cues. Sure, it’s hardly string the­ory, but even when the so­lu­tions are more ob­vi­ous the game fre­quently com­pen­sates with vis­ual wit and in­ven­tion.

If its nar­ra­tive some­times leans to­wards the pre­dictable, it comes across as heart­felt rather than ma­nip­u­la­tive. Un­ravel isn’t al­ways as sure- footed as it might be, but there’s an un­fake­able sin­cer­ity of feel­ing be­hind its mes­sage. Chris Schilling

There’s an un­fake­able sin­cer­ity of feel­ing

Sec­onds later he was eaten by moths.

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