Ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Electronic Arts and Coldwood Interactive surprised folks by launching Unravel Two on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 during the EA Play event. It’s the sequel to Coldwood’s 2016 puzzle platformer and stars the same knitted hero Yarny – but this time, he has a friend. Unravel Two can be played solo or with local co-op, but no matter how you approach it, you’ll have two characters to play with.
As expected, it bears heavy resemblance to its predecessor, Unravel. Yarny can still shoot a lasso of thread to snag certain parts of the environment, swinging through the air and from platform to platform. He can still make yarn bridges to boost his jump. But Unravel Two also features a few new tricks.
Yarny has an unnamed friend, who is by default blue though players can change their appearance. They’re linked together, their bodies like two spools on opposite ends of a string. Many of the new puzzles require the two characters to work together — in one instance, the buddy holds a log in place while Yarny scrambles up it and leaps to safety. Once he’s there, his friend shimmies up their connecting yarn to join him.
This mechanic is a lot of fun, though I haven’t had a chance to try it in co-op mode yet. But having another character as part of the journey from start to finish seems like it would make adding Player Two to the mix feel seamless and natural. Coldwood has also focused on making the gameplay more accessible – Yarny no longer has to replenish his body from nests of string throughout the level, and both the characters have more mobility and can wall jump up through certain areas.
Coldwood creative director Martin Sahlin said that Unravel Two is all about friendship, and the first two levels seem to tell the story of someone who feels isolated and alone. As Yarny and his companion journey through damp caves and city rooftops, everything in the environment is gray. Occasional memories fade in and out of the background, showing two children who are perhaps bonding over shared or similar tragedies. The gloomy urban landscape is a far cry from the sunny bucolic countryside in Unravel, but it’s still beautiful to look at. And I’m hoping that we’ll get to visit picturesque locales in later levels.
Frida Johansson and Henrik Oja have reprised their roles as composers from the first Unravel, and so far Unravel Two boasts the same kind of evocative soundtrack – sorrowful strings with the occasional playful flourish, taking its inspiration from folk music. Altogether, this sequel seems promising, keeping the spirit of the previous game while exploring new ways to move through the world and new stories.