Unravel Two is the follow-up to 2016's Unravel, the first indie game published under EA's Originals brand -- and it is just as adorable and emotionally powerful as the original. Unravel Two stars Yarny, the same anthropomorphized ball of red yarn that carried players through the first game, and it adds a second, blue Yarny, instantly upping the cute factor 100 percent.
Using the strings hanging from their bottoms (See? Absolutely adorable), Yarny and its blue buddy traverse beautiful, sidescrolling 3D landscapes of jagged rocks, busted logs, smoldering forest floors, clear waters and dangerous animals. They swing from branches and wall-jump up the crevasses between rocks, helping each other along the way. The characters can swing from each other, climb up one another's strings, and even tie those strings together to create a thin trampoline that boosts them up the level.
The cooperative aspect of Unravel Two is new, but it doesn't require two players to actually work. The entire game is playable solo, with one person alternating between the blue and red Yarny to solve spatial puzzles. The two characters can also combine into one blue-and-red-streaked Yarny. This control scheme is crucial, especially because Unravel Two isn't an online co-op game -- it's local only. Fostering in-person gaming relationships was important to Unravel developers at Coldwood Interactive, an independent studio based in Sweden. After all, the Unravel series is all about the power of connection.
"We were slightly overwhelmed by the feedback that we got about this kind of emotional game," technical director Jakob Marklund said during an Unravel Two gameplay demo at E3 2018. "And we got some criticism for things, but I think it was quite fair in the reviews. We didn't do everything perfectly, but hopefully we have fixed some of these things in this game."
"With EA, we have plenty of time."
Marklund will know soon if Coldwood succeeded -- Unravel Two is available right now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, following its surprise announcement at EA's E3 press conference. Under the EA Originals program, Coldwood receives funding, publishing and a marketing boost from EA, which then takes a bit of the game's profits in a revenue-sharing model. Before working with EA, Coldwood developers were living a rougher indie life, pressed to churn out a game every year just to stay sustainable. But Marklund says that with EA's help, the team is free to focus on building bigger games with longer development timelines.
"With EA, we have plenty of time," Marklund says. "So it's a completely other world for us."
EA doesn't impose any creative restrictions on Coldwood, either.
"We are totally free to do the game that we want, but they give us really good feedback all the time," he says. So in that sense it's just a perfect situation for us. We can do whatever we want."
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