I first heard of Unravel during EA’s press conference at E3 in 2015 when a very obviously nervous and excited Swedish man took to the stage, with shaky hands and a shaky voice, to talk about a game he’d been working on as a result from a summer vacation. Martin Sahlin made an impact on me that day, beyond the amazing look of the game he was presenting, there was something about his nervousness, excitement and youth (even though he’s about the same age as most game developers) that stayed with me as I waited anxiously for Unravel to come out.
Unravel, by Coldwood Interactive, is the kind of game that focuses almost solely on embodying emotions, those that are simple enough to be identified and described, as well as the more complex ones, the ones that mark us but whose origin we might not necessarily be able to pin point just yet. The game knew what it was and what it wanted to be, and offered me an experience I expected and that did not disappoint.
In Unravel, you play a creature made out of red yarn who starts to explore the world from the backyard of the old woman who left it unattended for on a table in her living room. You explore gardens, forests, come across ponds and fight through strong winds and snow, all to find scattered pieces within a world you are trying to explore and understand. Not a lot of storyline and plot is given to you clearly and easily, in Unravel. You come across clues and imagines, sometimes memories of emotions or things that have happened that help you put together the world that used to be and the world that now is.
Yarny is the main and sole character of Unravel, although by the end of the game you are able to identify some people. Their identities are vague and unimportant considering how clear their lives and impacts are as you go through the game. The design of Unravel left me breathless at multiple times if not constantly. I finished it in two nights, and both times wanted it to go on and on. The places you get to visit are breathtakingly beautiful, inspiring, and sometimes, sad.
The music in this game plays one of the largest role, as it helps you fully immerse in the journey you are partaking in. Written by Henrik Oja and Frida Johansson, I often would stop and listen to songs that absolutely perfectly describe the place that Yarny is visiting and the emotions you can tell he is experiencing right along with you. Having listening to the soundtrack multiple times now while at work, I must say that although perfect for the game, the work that was put into the music is something that is wonderful on so many different days and moods. (my favorite song being Collectibes)
It is difficult for me to find a way to wrap this up, or even wrap this up at all. The way that Unravel ends feels like the most appropriate and satisfying ended that I imagine a game like that could receive, yet, I’ll never fully say goodbye to the world and places I’ve explored in Unravel.
Whether by imagining those fictional places, wondering if they were real places that Martin Sahlin visited with his kids on that very clearly special and inspiring summer, or if perhaps if I were to buy a ticket to Sweden, I could maybe explore a world much like Unravel, and just as inspiring.
I urge you to play this beautiful and soft game that went into topics I never really expected it, and yet, wasn’t entirely surprised by. It was gentle, honest, moving, and so very respectful of it’s gamers. Unravel is a game that, like Journey by Thatgamecompany, makes me so very proud of being a gamer and having the chance to experiences games such as there.
Thank you SO MUCH to the team at Coldwood Interactive for making one of the most beautiful game I’ve ever played, and sometime that at times felt like a hang holding mine.
– Aurelie Nix