During E3 2015, one of the biggest surprises was the unbridled joy that was the announcement of Unravel. During E3 2018, one of the biggest surprises wasn't just Unravel Two's announcement but that the game would be made available immediately. Unravel Two, the co-op sequel to Electronic Arts and developer ColdWood Interactive, can be played right now. It's an improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way.
Unravel Two adds more charm, more complex puzzle design and, of course, an entirely new playable character. However, while Unravel Two is being marketed as a co-op, it's important to know that, like the first game, it can be played completely in single player. The ideal Unravel Two experience is in co-op but there's no barrier for anyone to play (and love) the latest and inventive entry in Unravel series.
In basic gameplay and structure Unravel Two isn't much different from its predecessor. The main character is still a sentient piece of yarn, named Yarny, and he/she/it is far more adorable and expressive than seems possible. Unravel Two doesn't change things too much. It is, however, an incredible refinement of the first game, adding polish and tweaks to every area of the game. The puzzles are more cleverly designed, the platforming is tighter and the environments are more layered and interesting.
The headlining feature of Unravel Two is the second Yarny. The addition of a second player and co-op feature could've been very hokey and taken away a lot of charm from Unravel. However, the exact opposite is true. The second Yarny only adds to the game and in surprisingly emotional ways too.
The addition of a second player allows Unravel Two to attempt far more ambitious puzzles, where the solution isn't immediately obvious. There's a lot more thought involved in Unravel Two than the first game. While playing solo, you have to determine where to position each Yarny to complete each puzzle. In co-op. it's a matter of communicating (a lot) with your partner and making each of you is doing exactly what you need to do being doing at all times.
Unravel Two is designed with co-op in mind. The game does function the best with a partner, and there is no online play. Yet the experience of playing solo isn't demonstratively worst. It's just different. Unravel Two has a lot of themes about companionship, belonging and love. Those makes perfect sense when the game is played in co-op but as a solo experience Unravel Two can be isolating. This sense of loneliness does put it more in line with the original and it is effecting in its own way, but it's not the more hopeful message that Unravel Two intends.
Unravel Two communicates its messages in more than the two Yarnies (Yarnys?). Throughout the game there is a story playing in the background as two children, who appear as ghosts, are escaping a terrible group home. The goal of the story is noble and it does connect to the game's co-op mechanics. However, the whole thing is just more strange than impactful. It serves as more of a distraction than an addition but at least it's a very minor distraction.
Unravel Two's story (and any ghost children it might contain) don't matter to the overall package. The focus is on Yarny and his new friend. This is something that game does perfectly. Every second spent figuring out the puzzles or jumping over platforms is a delight, even if melancholy can sink in during solo play.
Unravel Two is short. The whole game will can take anywhere from five to eight hours to complete. There are very fun challenge maps and collectibles, which pad out the game time and allow you to customize Yarny, but it exactly doesn't double the game's size. However, Unravel Two isn't a game you want to rush through to get the end. It's a haunting and strangely relaxing experience that needs to be savored.
Even if the story comes up short, Unravel Two is an experience unlike almost anything else out there and well worth the price of admission.
Unravel Two is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC for $19.99. EA provided a copy for review.