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Electronic Arts

Review: Unravel

Feb 08 // Caitlin Cooke
Unravel (PC, Xbox One, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Coldwood InteractivePublisher: Electronic ArtsReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $19.99 Unravel’s story begins with an elderly woman making her way up to bed as Yarny, the game’s darling protagonist made from red yarn, comes to life downstairs. His adventure begins just outside of the cottage, roaming through the garden and into the beyond in search of lost memories made by the family that once inhabited the house, unraveling himself along the way. Yarny is able to roam freely throughout the cottage, a landing area for the ten chapters in the game which are accessed through framed pictures. Each photo transports our hero to the area it was taken where he encounters fragments of lost family memories, pictures frozen in time. At the end of each chapter he places the memories into a photo album that starts to come to life, weaving pictures into a story. [embed]339641:62166:0[/embed] To capture all the memories you guide Yarny through various terrain and strategize on how to make it past obstacles without unraveling him too much, as he only has limited amounts of yarn before reaching another spool. At first the game throws a lot of yarn techniques and mechanics at you quickly, but with time they start to become second nature. Coming up with clever solutions using environmental props along with grappling, swinging, climbing, rappelling, and tying knots for points of resistance are key to making it through. The yarn puzzles are fairly easy to figure out without being too simple -- each task is fairly small and broken up, not requiring long chains of thought but at the same time being challenging enough to feel rewarded when making it through. There were a few areas I was stuck on for longer than I’d like, but for the most part I found them to be fun and clever. Surprisingly, the levels never felt repetitive and the game was kept fresh by experimenting with the yarn’s mechanics in new environments. Outside influences also give a bit of flavor, requiring additional thought behind the puzzles -- for example, landslides, animal chases, and active machinery all play additional parts to the game beyond the yarn. Because the yarn is finite and will stop unraveling if you use too much, being cautious with solutions is critical to making it past obstacles. Yarny will get visibly distressed and emaciated if you pull too far away -- but don’t worry, you won’t kill him, he just won’t stretch any farther. If you find yourself in a particular bind (literal or no) you are able to reset back to the last save point by holding the down button. This is an extremely useful and necessary feature as it is quite possible to accidentally get yourself in an unsolvable situation. Spools act as save points along with providing the additional thread, and are fairly regular throughout the levels, however there are some small stretches that can wear thin if you’re not careful and make too many mistakes. Unravel as a whole is a whimsical and endearing adventure, pulling you further into the atmosphere through the intricate textures and bright effects. In one of my favorite levels you make your way through a snowy farm, rolling pine cones to make snowballs. The environment was so realistically captured and joyful that I felt I was right there with Yarny rolling around in the snow. Textures and light within the environment are slightly exaggerated, but in that magical way that makes fond memories stand out brighter. Everything from a log to a puddle comes to life beyond what’s contained in reality, almost like watching the most beautiful sceneries replay in your head. There’s a certain sadness to the experience that I can’t quite explain, perhaps lost nostalgia and a lingering familial longing that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s not necessarily "sad" or depressing in the traditional sense, but a thoughtful tale that brings forth various emotions throughout that will vary depending on the player’s personal history and connection to the story. These emotions are certainly drawn out even further by the sepia tones and lovely violin accompaniment, along with the self-discovering nature of the game. Unravel cherishes the best moments in life while recognizing the hard battles we sometimes face as families, all wrapped up within delightful gameplay and stunning scenery. The atmosphere is so compelling that I couldn’t help but feel like a piece of my own story was wrapped up in the game with the rest of the photo album. It’s rare but a special thing when a game manages to impart a story that touches strings deep in the heart, and Unravel manages to meet and exceed this feat. Get ready to have all the feels. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Unravel review photo
Simply beautiful
At first glance Unravel feels akin to LittleBigPlanet with its adorably miniature yarn-clad mascot, but don’t let it fool you. It’s a heartfelt story with little communication beyond imprinted memories, woven with...

Titanfall photo
Titanfall

Report: Titanfall 2 will include single-player mode


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Unravel

EA and Origin Access subscribers can play the first two levels of Unravel right now


Oooh Yarny, kumbayaaaa
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It’s not long now until puzzle-platformer Unravel is launched. On February 9, the world will be too distracted by how adorable Yarny is to notice many of the world’s ills, and we will at last have achieved global ...
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Electronic Arts

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Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is off to a great start, based on the beta

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The biggest change I noticed immediately was the hub world, which the game grants you access to right from the start. It essentially consists of two giant bases (one for Plants, the other for Zombies), with a giant battlefield in the middle. Right now in the beta quests aren't enabled, but it was fun to just roam around in, as there's plenty of canon fodder to destroy and new areas to discover. Players can level-up in the hub it seems, breaking up some of the monotony of playing online over and over. You can also instantly switch allegiances and see how the other side lives. I'm hopeful for this element of the game in the finished version. In terms of the new classes, I'm rather impressed. Each army has three new playstyles, all of which add their own unique imprint to the metagame. On the Plant side I really enjoyed the Rose, which functions as a mage archetype, complete with a polymorph spell. The Citron, a tank-like character is a real game-changer with its shield, which can block sniper shots with ease for both you and your party. Kernel Corn is a bruiser of sorts, with limited mobility and the power to call in airstrikes. The Zombies have a lot of utility as well with the Imp, who is fast and fragile, but dual wields pistols and can call in the devastating mech power-up. Captain Deadbeard suits the Zombie playstyle just fine as a wildcard, who is more of a jack of all trades/master of none type deal, with long and short range abilities. Super Brainz is probably the wackiest of them all though, as he's a melee character that's seemingly based off of Bizarro with a host of different moves, including a hadoken. Of course, all the old favorites return, with four variants for every character, including the new classes. While microtransactions are in at launch this time (they weren't in the first game, but were added later), they seem to be par for the course, which basically means you can ignore them. Players will be able to buy coins for real cash, but those coins are handily awarded by playing the game, and according to EA "nothing you can't earn can be bought." The beta kicked off as of yesterday, and you can join in on the festivities until January 18. It's limited to just multiplayer and several modes, but the finished version will bring back the wave-based "Garden Ops" mode, as well as split-screen for "all game modes," as well as the ability for the second player to earn their own upgrades on their account. Barring a tiny amount of lag in a few of my matches, things seem to be going very smoothly.
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Plants or Zombies
It's a damn shame that Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare wasn't more popular. I mean, it did well enough for EA to greenlight a sequel, but many of my friends weren't keen on it because it looked too silly. Little did t...

Unravel photo
Unravel

Unravel is out next month, but you can get your hands on Yarny today


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If you're a fan of Unravel's excessively cute protagonist Yarny, and why wouldn't you be, now could be your chance to get a yarn companion of your very own. Thanks to a short step-by-step demonstration by the game's crea...
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Unravel's Yarny came from the ideas of love and connectedness


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