The wind is howling and the waves are crashing against the hull of the ship. Yarny is thrown overboard and eventually washes ashore, soaked and alone. His rope tail has been severed; there is no way back, no way forward. To his surprise, another yarn troll clambers out of a suitcase, severed tail and all. They tie their tails together and form a magical, unbreakable bond.
This is how Unravel Two, the sequel to the ultra-charming yarn-adventure from 2016, begins. The game was revealed and launched during EA's presser at E3, and is again knitted, or developed if you will, by Coldwood Interactive.
The two yarn trolls find their way to a lighthouse, which acts as a hub in the game, much like "grandma's" house in the first game. From here you can venture out through different portals and collect memories that turn into pictures on the wall of the lighthouse. Not straying too far from the original pattern so far. During your different adventures, you have to get from A to B by utilising the rope lasso in creative ways to solve puzzles. You'll swing, knot, pull and hoist like it's going out of style. Littered about the level are collectables that can be a bit hard to reach, and in the background, a story is played out by ephemeral figures. Still very familiar territory. Fans of the first game and the stringy little adventurer have a lot to look forward to!
But, there are a few important differences, the main one being that you can now play with a friend. We each stepped into the role of a yarn troll and ventured out into the great big world. It turned out to be a challenging, chaotic and very entertaining experience. There's a lot to keep track of when you have two trolls trying to swing back and forth from the same knot, or trying to time their jumps to avoid hazards like fire or steam, or enemies. It gets especially challenging in one of the game's many chase scenes, where the both of you have to run fast and think faster. There was a lot of yelling and shaking of fists in our living room, we'll tell you that.
It is as a co-op game that Unravel Two really finds its spot in the limelight, and the key element of the entire game is cooperation. You need to help each other out when things get too difficult. Which we did... quite often. And it was great! If one of us made it through a particularly challenging part of the level, and the other didn't, we could just hoist them up by the thread that connected us.
If that technique was unfeasible, we could join forces, intertwine and complete the puzzle as one troll. This lets players traverse obstacles and not have to worry about having to complete them twice, or ruining things for the troll that actually made it across or up or through. In turn, this is an awesome mechanic if you're playing with someone who isn't familiar with platformers, or if you're using the game to introduce non-gamers, be it your kids, friends or significant others to joys of local co-op. It lowers the threshold and stress levels because you have a safety net in the other player, and if things get too difficult the other player can, quite literally, carry you through the entire game. The game also does a good job of teaching newbies techniques and tricks they'll need later; timing, coordination, and button discipline, to mention a few.