The cute and lovable Yarny returns in a sequel that far exceeds the first adventure. This time he has brought a friend along to help solve puzzles that are tailored to a co-op experience. The addition of a second player adds a new dynamic to the game that was unexplored by its predecessor. Cozy up under a knitted blanket with a friend and dive into this one head first; you will not regret the investment.
The game follows a knotted yarn creature tethered to another as they traverse beautiful locales that can only be described as eye candy. The story is not entirely about the controlled characters, but a pair of children that appear and disappear in the background as they try to escape from adults and end up landing in hot water. This culminates in two stories that are not entirely disconnected. The first being the immediate player-controlled balls of yarn in the foreground and the second being the background escape scenes. The Yarnies inadvertently help the children, who recurrently find themselves in tricky situations, by piecing together a spark that both acts as a guide, and gets the adults off the children’s tails. Looking at the big picture, the story is not particularly strong in this installment. However, what the game lacks in storytelling is made up for in visual coherence and captivating gameplay.
The platforming and puzzles in Unravel Two are very satisfying throughout the entire game. This time around, the second player is crucial in advancing as you are forced to swing off each other and sometimes separate to solve puzzles. In an era where couch co-op is seemingly a thing of the past, it’s a breath of fresh air, and a blast to play with a partner. I played through the adventure with my girlfriend who is not at all familiar with video games, but the controls were simple enough to be serviceable to both of us. Although she doesn’t like most games, she had just as much fun as I did. It’s important to also note that this game can be played entirely in single player as well, although the experience is far more fun with a friend. In single player there are still two Yarnies, but the player has control over both, switching characters to solve puzzles and platforming sequences in the same manner as two-players. Regardless of how you play, one Yarny can carry the other on his back, allowing for a single player to navigate the level just once, or a more experienced player to carry the other through the more difficult areas in co-op. This can alleviate some frustration in the co-op mode if one player seems to be having trouble or falling behind.
As I mentioned before, the scenery in this game is breathtaking, setting adorably imagined characters in realistic environments. There is a contrast between the landscapes and the player-controlled characters which serves to bring the Yarnies to life. The jagged, sometimes treacherous terrain feels like they exist in the real world and we see it all through the eyes of a tiny creature. The world seems huge to the protagonists as they trek through puddles that seem like ponds, over fallen branches that are trees, and rocks as boulders. Everything is relative to the Yarnies’ size. Simply put, it’s like living vicariously through the eyes of a mouse, and it’s beautiful.
At times, my girlfriend could not stand the music that played through some of the levels, and I’m inclined to agree with her. Some songs in the soundtrack are just terribly annoying. While I must admit there were some really great melodies, the vast majority of them are not particularly euphonious. They didn’t detract too much from the core experience though. I sometimes wouldn’t even notice the sound when I was having a blast jumping and swinging away.
There are 7 chapters in Unravel Two, all connected by a light-house inspired hub-world. When the story concluded, I wanted more. The ingenious level design made each chapter unique and the game didn’t outstay it’s welcome. Beyond the main chapters, there is more. 20 challenges await you as every hub opens by the end of the game. These challenges can range from a simple object displacement and climb, to a more brain teasing sequence of making knots and swinging around obstacles. It’s apparent that a lot of thought was put into making puzzles that challenge even the most experienced puzzle platformer veteran. I was actually really sad when everything was done because I knew then that it would be difficult to find another game that does co-op so simplistic and fun. It will take some coercion to get my girlfriend to play a different game with me, and the replay value for Unravel Two is very low. There are some collectibles to go back and find, but there really is no incentive to do so. I just wish there was more to the game, but that isn’t a negative point. It just proves how fun the game really is. It could have been 50 chapters long and I would still want more.
It’s games like Unravel Two that give me hope for the future of couch co-op. I would really like to see that trend make a comeback and this game is a step in the right direction. Unravel Two culminates in an immensely enjoyable experience that can be shared with friends and family and I won’t soon forget the fun I had swinging and pulling my partner up onto platforms. In my modest opinion, Unravel Two easily deserves an above average score, with a strong recommendation for any couple to give this one a shot. There is a lot of fun to be had.
Replay Value: 1/5
Total: 16/25, or 64/100