Unravel is the the Pixar movie of video games. Most of the world has fallen into the nostalgia trap, and recently I have fallen prey to the drug of nostalgia with video games.
After playing big blockbuster games like Alien: Isolation, Uncharted 4, Grand Theft Auto V, and Watch Dogs 2, I needed something light and fun that I could check in and check out of. I began searching the Playstation Store for a game that would be like the games of old.
All I wanted was a side-scroller that I could just kind of run through. That's when I saw the trailer for Unravel. The cute protagonist Yarny caught my eye, and the side-scrolling puzzle game reminded me of blend of the retro side-scrolling games of Nintendo mixed with the PS2 games like Ico.
I went into Unravel looking for something light to play, but it turned into much more. The game starts off delightful, but as you progress in each level, the tone becomes much darker. Unravel tells the story of Yarny, who travels through the memories of an elderly woman via pictures in her home.
Yarny collects these memories and places them in a photo album at the end of each level. The story itself begins as a happy one, showing the family enjoying themselves by the sea, hiking, and various activities. As the game progresses the story shows the struggles of growing apart, the changing of a small town, and the death of a husband.
The game is mostly a playable version of the first five minutes of Pixar's Up. The wonderful score by Henrik Oja and Frida Johansson invokes the same emotion that Michael Giacchino is able to conjure in Up. The team at Coldwood created a game with no dialogue, but is able to make the player feel each emotion they're trying to present. The photo-realistic scenery, the score, and the emotions Yarny expresses brings gamers into a world where emotional connection is unavoidable, much like the first hour of Pixar's Wall-E.
Unravel is a game about the struggles and the hard work that love takes. The further Yarny moves away from the thing he loves, the more it unravels and loses who it is. The most emotional level is near the end, when Yarny has to battle his way in the dark through a blizzard. He must drag a lantern to light his way, and hold on for dear life as the blizzard tries to blow him away. The animation of Yarny suffering through the cold, and as he slowly realizes that he's traveling through a cemetery is heartbreaking.
The end of the game leaves the player on a slightly higher note. Spring rolls around, Yarny is able to complete the photo album, and the elderly lady has company again. The game is the pursuit of love, losing that love, remembering the good and the bad and realizing that those events are what formed you.
Much like Yarny, we unravel as problems occur, but we're able to recover and become whole again. Although I looked for something light to play, I am in no way disappointed with what Unravel brought to the table. Players can tell that the development team at Coldwood put their heart and soul into the game, and its a game that gamers will enjoy living through. It's an emotional game that teaches sometimes you have to kill yourself to live.
Unravel is available to play on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.