E3 2015: Unravel-ing Adventure with Yarny
The EA E3 offering had everything video game fans expected from high action titles like Star Wars Battlefront and Mirror's Edge Catalyst to the storied library of EA Sports titles like Madden NFL 16 and NHL 16. Tucked within all of those announcements however was a small puzzle-platformer that instantly captured the hearts of everyone who saw it. Unravel is a quirky little game starring the cutest little piece of fabric this side of Wool Yoshi, and after some extended hands-on time I instantly fell in love.
Don't let the cuteness fool you, Unravel will test your wits with devious puzzles that require some quick out-of-the-box thinking to proceed. Yarny can use pieces of his yarn body (which sounds gross but actually works well) to create yarn bridges that allow him to cross deep chasms or to swing from one side of a cliff to another using the controller for momentum. I can't get too carried away with yarn use however, as eventually Yarny will run out and be unable to continue unless he finds more yarn to build himself up. Yarny leaves behind a little bit of himself with every step, and not locating more yarn means not succeeding in the Unravel world.
The demo I played spanned two very different moments in the young yarn ball's life. First was a happy scene in a sunny garden where Yarny pushed blocks and created bridges in order to get from one end to the other. One particular puzzle saw me creating a bridge with my yarn, then pushing apples up the bridge into a bucket, which then filled with water and allowed me to use the apples I had just placed as another bridge. Some of these puzzles are truly ingenious and take some clever thinking to pull off, so I had to be sure to always look for a place to lasso or tie one half of a bridge.
The second half of the demo brought a furious rainstorm and a whole new set of puzzles with it. This section introduced puddles of water and radioactive material in my path, both of which are deadly to poor Yarny. I had to move all kinds of obstacles in order to continue, including one section where I have to remove one platform from inside another platform in order to climb on top of both of them and continue on. It was a dark and stormy night for Yarny, but I was able to pull through and get to the end of the demo.
The final puzzle was the trickiest of all, as the demo culminated in a massive landslide of rocks and stones. In order to succeed I had to first walk on top of the incoming rocks, then wait for a particular one with grass growing on top of it to appear and use that one to jump across the pit to safety. If I missed the jump, I'd fall into a pit of acid and perish, and if I didn't jump across and stayed on the side I approached from, I would eventually be struck with a massive sliding rock (which I later found out triggers the end of the demo if Yarny is in the right place) and be forced to try again. It took a lot of my platforming skills, but I eventually delivered Yarny to the promised land, and watched as the game teased me with more to come.
Unravel is so far out of EA's normal expected library it's hard to believe I played it there and not at an indie booth somewhere. The game dazzled me with its cute hero, impressive graphics, and mind-bending puzzles. I'm hoping that Yarny and his magical world become available soon, as I'm ready to Unravel the rest of his adventure.
Unravel will launch later this year on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.