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Unravel Preview: Yarny is adorable, but Unravel is far from it

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UnravelYarny, the protagonist of Coldwood Interactive’s upcoming platformer Unravel, is an endearing little fellow made entirely of yarn. He lives in a world of moss and buttons and puddles, and looks just like the kind of plucky little guy who could lift your spirits.

In Unravel, though, Yarny is put through the wringer, and so are your emotions.

The plot, as described by Coldwood CTO Jakob Marklund, is one of reconnection. An old woman has lost contact with her family over the years, and Yarny is meant to represent the bonds between people, reaching out over a long distance to tie them together again. It’s the sort of intense emotional story you could only get out of a studio like Coldwood, which has long worked on contract sports and fitness projects and itself yearns for a grand emotional adventure.

Unravel

unravel_e3_screen6The game’s environments look just as gorgeous as they appear in these screenshots. Zooming in to such a view lets the attention to detail shine, as Coldwood based these areas on places around the team’s studio and did its best to make these seem naturally-occurring and alive. What these shots don’t show are the darker, bleaker settings, which seem to make up a large segment of the experience.

These night levels, as well as the solemn parts of the day ones, complement the mechanics themselves in a compelling way. Sure, Yarny gets to swing around, lasso objects and such, but everything he does costs him a literal portion of himself. Tying between two points to make a bounce platform is a lot less whimsical when Yarny has to lose some of his torso to make it happen. As Yarny runs out of string — and it happens a lot, as you’re always having to scavenge for hidden yarn balls — he becomes frail and limps and shuffles along. It makes for a powerful, though not uplifting, tale that feels a lot less like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and a lot more like Limbo.

unravel_e3_screen8Yarny’s tough journey is made worse through various scripted events. In our demo, for example, he has to limp slowly across a wet highway, which starts to look like the most beautiful thing you’ve seen in a game until the moment a vehicle careens down it and almost brings Yarny’s journey to an abrupt end. All of a sudden you’re reminded that life is the worst, especially since it’s always trying to beat down a plucky guy like Yarny.

Marklund told us that Yarny’s adventure progresses through the seasons, starting in summer and going all the way to spring. Maybe Unravel has a warm spring surprise? A light at the end of the seasonal tunnel? Even if our emotions end up just as frayed as our little red pal, we’re ready for the ride.

Unravel is heading to PS4, Xbox One and PC. Its release window is still up in the air, but it’s up for preorder for $19.99.

Product Page [ Amazon ]

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