I'm really feeling it!

Gaming While Married: Unravel Two

For some reason the ending message in the credits struck me. Especially considering the publisher
Screenshot: screenshot by author

Yes, things break beyond repair sometimes, but we can always build anew.”

This is essentially the mantra of Unravel Two, whose story mode my wife and I finished a few months ago. It was wonderful to play through together and I’m so glad we did.

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Playing video games together is something we’ve done off and as a couple for years now. She’s incredibly generous with her time and amazingly supportive of my hobby; she’s truly a partner, and for a game like this, you need one.

She’s become skilled at 2D platformers, but it can be difficult to find a game that not only supports co-op but is designed around it. Unravel Two fit the bill perfectly, and it just so happened to go on sale on the PSN so I pulled the trigger.

What’s immediately striking about Unravel Two is the art direction. It’s gorgeous, way more so than either of us were anticipating. The games prime directive seems to be: “above all else, be adorable”. We’ve been playing more low-budget indie stuff lately so we were struck with just how incredible this game looked. The moss looks mossy, the water splashy. I always forget that EA published this game, and when they throw that big money behind something, it shows.

Playing through this game with my wife, we chatted through each puzzle we encountered. We learned how to look for secrets, and the best way to approach difficult challenges. We realized that the stakes in general aren’t all that high, and took so much pressure off. We weren’t going for %100 completion or anything so we cruised through a few levels at a time, enjoying each other’s company. The little Yarnbois are incredibly cute and sometimes we would just hang out and let the adorable little idle animations do their thing.

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There’s so much to love about this game, but to me the main thing is: it’s never frustrating. The puzzles don’t overstay their welcome, and they scale up in difficulty in just the right way. We loved that at any point, one character can absorb into the other, carry them through a difficult section. I took the lead during a few of the faster-paced moments, but it never felt like I was doing so out of exasperation or frustration. In the grand scheme of things, my wife is still new to video games, so having this player-friendly option was appreciated.

The rope swinging and climbing is so influenced by having a second player present that I wonder what it would be like trying to play this game by yourself. It’s probably possible, but after playing through it with my wife I don’t think I want to experience it any other way.

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We loved trying to piece together the story. It’s told in a gauzy, fairy-tale style with no spoken dialogue at any point, and part of the magic was observing the characters and making up the story ourselves. Even though neither of us had played Unravel, it didn’t really feel like we were out of the loop. This is one of those games where the story is secondary to atmosphere and mechanics and on both of those fronts, the game delivers.

I doubt we’ll try and collect all the secrets or do the speedrun challenges, but I appreciate that they exist. Maybe someday when we’ve got nothing better to do and it’s raining out, we’ll see what we can accomplish. This game has the feel of something you’d pull out of a trunk on a dreary day and at once smile and be reminded of a more nostalgic time. The whole aesthetic is just sweet like that.

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It’s an easy one to pass up, but if you have a significant other or a child who you’re trying to get interested in video games, I highly recommend Unravel Two.

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