When I picked up Unravel 2, I was pretty sure I knew what to expect. A traditional, side-scrolling 2D platform puzzler. What I wasn’t expecting was a thoroughly charming, gorgeous, clever and oddly soothing game.
Unravel 2 is a sequel to the 2016 title that first introduced us to Yarny who is made entirely out of a string of yarn. The sequel ups the ante by letting you and a friend control two Yarnies joined at the hip by a single thread.
You guide them through a series of puzzles and platforms while avoiding dangers like fire, fowls and fresh trout. Your spirit guide, a ball of light, shows you the path to take and opens portals for you to different sections.
Unravel 2 Review
This game is gorgeous – one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. Its settings are everyday locales like playgrounds, streams, a barn and even a burning forest.
Each is lovingly rendered with beautiful and lush details that you would be forgiven in thinking they are actual photos. Setting our tiny heroes in these believable environments gives this game its charm.
As you play, a story of two teenage boys unfolds in the background. Displayed as ghostly apparitions or faded memories, it shows the boys trying to escape from some dark figures. Your actions affect the story by opening a path for the boys or chasing off their dark pursuers.
Likewise, some actions of the story cause a change in the real world for the Yarnies such as when the boys start a wildfire.
Yarning for Freedom
You face a variety of clever and challenging puzzles which often leave you scratching your head for clues. Puzzles will need you to use both Yarnies in ways that made me wonder how you could play the first game with only one.
The bond of connecting thread is key to solving many of the puzzles. It allows you to use one Yarny as an anchor for the other to climb or swing across to otherwise unreachable spots. Other times you have one hold a switch while the other passes or even use the thread to create a trampoline. The physics are a joy and the limited length of the yarn adds extra challenge.
Every challenge was fun and brain-wracking but I never felt frustrated or stressed. In fact, playing Unravel 2 gave me a sense of calm and relaxation even when I failed many times.
The game will also offer you hints if you can’t figure out how to solve a puzzle. There is also a mechanic to slow down time if things are a bit too fast-paced.
Unravel 2 spawns you close to the point of death when you inevitably misjudge a jump or combust for the umpteenth time. This is handy because some sections are particularly tricky.
Your Yarnies aren’t very resilient creatures so instantaneous death happens a lot. Luckily, the vast majority of the game is devoid of active foes. It’s mainly your environment that can kill you.
Yarn’s not just for Yoshis
Unravel 2 is a short game. Even taking my sweet time, it still only took me under 6 hours to finish. The game unfolds over seven chapters with a Lighthouse as your central hub. Completing a chapter opens up other optional challenge areas, 20 in total.
The goal is to rescue trapped Yarnies. All your skills learned from the main quest will be severely tested, giving several more hours of play. As a reward, you get more customisations for your Yarny’s appearance. These cosmetics let you change yarn colour, eye types and horns. You can change the appearance of your Yarny’s at any time by going to the pause menu.
While Unravel 2 is a local co-op game for you and a friend, it’s still very playable and enjoyable solo. The control scheme allows you to swap between Yarnies at any time. You can also piggyback one to control them as one unit.
Unravel 2 is charming, gorgeous, challenging fun that’s great for solo players as well as co-op. The puzzles are clever and challenging without being frustrating. The music carries you along in a trance.
I never wanted it to end.
Unravel 2 was reviewed on Xbox One using a digital code provided by the publisher.