Yarny and the Unravellers


Strung Out

It’s a Gratuitous Yarn Pun That We’re Really Reaching For Here

I don’t really like platformers and I’m not a fan of wool. Red is not my favourite colour, and look – we’re not off to a great start here. I don’t even have the full game.

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There’s a trial version of Unravel available for those Xbox One gamers that have subscribed to the EA Access program, which will give them a free run at the first two levels of the game, as well as the house that serves as a quasi-level portal. We went through these levels, liked it, and will no doubt step into the real game at some point in the near future.

But for real check this.

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This is Yarny. He’s very clearly the devil. He’s not so clearly a he, but it does seem to be what they’re referring to with this ball of yarn. This is the reason that EVERYBODY is trying to make a pun that’s to do with knitting or wool or yarn or beelzebub, lord of the underworld. Really, take a look, he’s the fabric-based devil. I’m not even making a pun when I say this bugger is the cause of the loose thread coming out of your favourite shirt, and he’s probably the same one responsible for socks going missing.

When you first meet Yarny, you pretty much see him wander into a house. He’s escaped a knitting basket or some other plausible backstory that might be in the full game, and he’s on a deadly hunt for adventure.

The basic idea of the game (other than you being Yarny, the devilish wool-elemental we keep talking about) is that you go around like the image on the left and while trying to get through the various obstacles, you try and tangle as many things as possible so that the humans of the world are unable to do anything, and your textilian army can rise up.

Yes, this is all completely fabricated.

Instead, you’re travelling through different areas – snowy landscapes, the beach, a front yard, other-places that aren’t in the trial version. Not even a coin-operated telescope is safe from Yarny’s antics. While it’s not the job of this reporter to cast aspersions, there hasn’t been a spokesperson from Big Wool saying they’re NOT involved in what’s clearly propaganda as part of an ongoing turf-war against polyester and other synthetic fabrics.

Now where does that leave us?

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That’s right, it leaves us hanging.

Sure, we might have a few interesting mechanics to play with. Sure, we might be having fun as we swing from nail to nail, holding on to our dangly bits for dear life. No, jeez, I mean the wool – the wool dangles. Oh My God.. what… eww, no. You guys, seriously. Is… is that what you thought I meant?

Guys. ugh. This is a family game!

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Look, this is a kid. Or grandma. Or a Benjamin Button aging person. It’s a family thing.

It’s in this precise moment that you can see exactly how Unravel tells it’s story, as our dear character Yarny voyages through the memories of yesteryear. It’s within the frames of photographs, hallmarks of a age begotten by a more simple way of doing things, that we harken back to a time laden with the pleasures spent together, be it a stroll through the woods, an afternoon. The rusted squeaks of a tricycle transports us back into our own childhood, using sight and sound to aid us in recalling images from our past, remembering those moments, fleeting as they are, for little more than the uncohesive memories of a young one long since aged.

In that Unravel has within it the manifestations of the genre, from pioneers such as Pitfall, to exemplaries of the craft like Aladdin. It has a reeling feel of the more experimental mobile puzzles. In some ways it feels less of a platformer (which it does on the surface appear to be) and more of a puzzle game. Sometimes those puzzles require us to take a step back, often literally, and scrap whatever progress we think we’d made for a fresh look at a challenge. That’s pretty cool in itself, though most of these puzzles come frequent enough to sate even the most ding-hungry gamer.

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The way the utilities afforded to the player can be used means that there always feels like you’re able to progress, and even those tougher moments that are found in the trial such as with the crabs (and the crabs as an antagonist is genius), you can always get a little further. The only puzzle of the lot that felt like the solution was a brute force approach (and probably not the correct one) was later in the beach level, but it means there’s still little bits to go back to even here.

There’s even a fantastic moment when you come back to the hub-style house and realise that all those things you were introduced to through the levels, they apply here too.

You should definitely check this game out. It’s a really clever experience.


  • It’s our shadow in the world that brings it with such sweet lifts; the breaths that rise a little more than they ought to.

    They are our fountain of once, a smile that brings water to the eyes, and makes our gaze shy away.

    For in these final places, where we journey once again to the endless adventure of our youth,

    We find the first thimble, the first hammer, or that special way of making the normal anything but.

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