Unravel Hammers Away At Every Emotional Button Going

I fear this hyper-earnest behind the scenes vid might somewhat unravel the charm and emotive clout of Unravel [official site] by being so very on the nose about love and bonds and big hearts. This may, of course, be because I am a sneering critic within whose eyes lurks only icy deadness. I hope the game itself resists such overt emotional signposting.

I really do want to play Unravel though – its pseudo-stop-motion aesthetic is ridiculously pretty, the yarn-based psychics puzzling has a ‘why hasn’t someone done this before?’ ingenuity to it, and its Swedish origins show just enough that it has a welcome touch of otherness to it to these Britcit eyes. Cuteness that might have become cloying in other hands has an appealing undertone of bleakness to it.

Oddly, EA are publishing this one, clearly chancing their arm on something different to their guns’n’sports’n’mobile norm for the first time in a while. That’s not to say there isn’t enormous mainstream appeal in Yarny, though – you don’t have to look far to find ties to the likes of Little Big Planet, Grow Home and Tearaway.

Here’s a bonus vid about the environments, which I think I dig more than I do Yarny himself:

It’s just over a month away – on Feb 9 we’ll find out whether it’s found the right side of the cheesy/charismatic line, and whether its theory of string-based puzzles can support a whole game.

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  1. mukuste says:

    Still looks great but I worry if they aren’t overdoing it a bit on the emotionally manipulative front. Many parts of it just seem expressly designed to tell you, “feel sad, NOW”.

    • anHorse says:

      It’s good games writer bait, manipulate someone into being a bit sad and you’ll get shitloads of articles on your game. To the Moon showed that even rubbish games can work if you do this.
      Unravel’s clearly shooting for this emotional connection given all the nicely directed videos about how the creator really likes his bit of knitting. EA (I presume they’re the ones making the videos for the game) are really begging for people to do biographical criticism of the game.

      Personally I’m not sold on the actual gameplay of this yet, to me it still looks like Trine minus the wizard and soldier or Bionic commando: rearmed.
      Indie platformer with rope physics is a niche I’ve already played a lot of so it’ll need to do more than just that to win me over.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      Yeah, I got that from the very first trailer when it was console exclusive*. Everyone was talking about it like it was some indie darling because it pushes all the ‘correct’ buttons, but the trailer didn’t make me feel anything real. It seems like just a cute-looking, very straight forward platformer with the unique game mechanic entirely being ‘thread does everything you need it to’.

      Little Big Planet had oodles more charm, even if just seen as a platformer without all the mod stuff.

  2. Xzi says:

    “the yarn-based psychics puzzling has a ‘why hasn’t someone done this before?’ ingenuity to it”

    Kirby’s Epic Yarn?

  3. Suits says:

    EA? So $40 Yarny season pass

  4. gwathdring says:

    Hmm. I suppose I’m on guard in the opposite direction; I’m suspicious of the anti-sentimental masquerading as cautious criticism.

    Of course EA is going to milk this for all it’s worth and try and make people pay attention and give it press and get people to talk about it and Get the Message even if they’re irrationally, corporately worried people will a) miss the point by some miracle or b) criticize the game if its bad. Of course EA will want to hide behind sentiment and hope for the critical acclaim of Limbo in the face of lacklustre design.

    But that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to get it right, too. They’re hedging their bets. If nothing else, surely the designer is sincere no matter how in-your-face the marketing is.

    Slightly wonky physics platformers that are lovely to look at aren’t usually worth writing home about, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the time it takes to play them. And I suppose out of distrust for the mechanics, I’m expecting an afternoon’s lovely diversion sort of game not some sort of magnificently touching opus.

    But personally I don’t have anything against being sentimental or against being obvious. It’s difficult to judge execution on “obivousness.” So it’s not going to be a riveting, groundbreaking, novel piece of storytelling. As a rule, that’s not something I expect.

  5. Jakkar says:

    I fear what could be a truly excellent game might be bogged down by the chokingly thick ‘hipster art student’ theme going on in the level backgrounds and general presentation. I’m not sure I can stomach it. You can’t go through school in South Wales in the 90s and retain the ability to feel, express or witness emotion healthily. This is too much D:

  6. monkeybeach says:

    I think this is a pretty interesting discussion, so I thought I’d comment on it. It’s something we’ve talked about a lot while making the game. The way I see it, good stories and emotional stuff in games is all about subtlety and agency – letting the player control things, and not forcing things on them. It’s not about pushing buttons at all, but rather about providing nice buttons for players to push, if they want to. So that’s the approach we took with Unravel – it’s full of things to care about, if you’re the type to care about such things. The story is what you make of it. Assuming you want to make anything at all. If you don’t, that’s fine too :)

    Subtlety is not usually the best marketing tool though, so a video like this sort of naturally takes a more brute force approach to things :)