Unravel Interview: It’s a Pretty Tech-heavy Game, Features No Enemies

By   /   Jul 10, 2015
Unravel Developer

The E3 2015 was full of surprises and ambitious projects that left fans in awe. One such project that we witnessed at the expo was Unravel by Coldwood Interactive. The game is a physics-based puzzle-platformer and revolves around a small anthromorphic creature named Yarny.

Throughout the game, Yarny needs to solve puzzles using the twine of which he is made of.

However, it is not all about creating lines and solving puzzles, the game looks equally amazing when you are just traversing and navigating across the beautifully crafted world.

We recently had a chat with Unravel’s Creative Director, Martin Sahlin and talked about the upcoming project.

Coldwood has previously worked on games like Freak Out and Snow Racing X on Playstation 2, but with Unravel, the studio has marked its entry in current-gen hardware.

Speaking of the transition, Sahlin stated:

Oh for sure, it’s a real pleasure working on the new stuff. Of course, the transition for us has been more about working on a completely different style of game, but the technology side is interesting too.

Previously, we haven’t really been in the position to push any tech boundaries, it was always more about just ‘getting it done’. This time around, we’ve been able to make exactly the game we wanted to make, pulling out all the stops tech-wise.

One of the things that made me fall in love with Unravel is the fact that Coldwood Interactive comprises of 14 people and what they showed at E3 stage was nothing short of impressive.

However, the idea did not come in a fortnight and has some solid inspiration behind it:

I think one big inspiration for me might have been this need to create something truly personal, something that was from the heart.

We’ve made a bunch of games that felt a lot like work for hire, which is fine to do, for a while. But I had some sort of insight after we’d made The Fight.

It wasn’t a great game, although it had some good parts, it turned out very different from what we set out to make.

It still sold hundreds of thousands of copies though, and a lot of people really really liked it. That made me think.

If something that’s essentially a failure can reach that many people, and have such an impact on them, imagine how many people you could reach with a truly good game, a game that actually tried to do something more than to just entertain you.

I guess Unravel was born out of that insight.

The moment it was announced that EA will be publishing the game, the news caught many by surprise since EA is not known to publish games such as Unravel.

Speaking of the partnership with EA, Sahlin told us that the studio worked on a PC port of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and met with Patrick Soderlund to pitch their idea.

The idea was well-received by the publisher and they fully embraced the game:

We’ve worked with EA before on a PC port of Battlefield Bad Company 2, so we have some history there.

And we’re Swedish, so of course we know some DICE people… We heard there was some interest, so we met with Patrick Söderlund to pitch our game, but in the end it actually felt more like he was pitching EA to us.

It was a very unusual experience for us.

He showed real passion, real interest in the game, and he totally ‘got’ what the concept was about, so deciding to work with EA was a pretty simple choice for us to make.

We chose to go with EA, because of the passion they showed, the way the totally embraced the game.

When asked about puzzles that will make it to the game and will there be more than one way to solve a puzzle; Sahlin put emphasis on the fact that puzzles in Unravel are a part of the story and will not feel scripted:

We like puzzles that become part of the story, things that you can easily tell someone about – like the part where you need to drag a lantern through deep snow, staying close to the light so you don’t freeze to death, or the part where you make your way along a rocky seashore, trying not to get washed away by the waves that keep rolling in.

We usually start with ideas like that, little story moments, and then we turn them into puzzles, sketching out some rough physics shapes, and starting to play with it.

We can iterate really quickly on things like that. The gameplay is all physics based, so yes, it will be possible to solve some puzzles in multiple ways.

We usually build things with one solution in mind, but we’re always happy when we see someone doing something in a different way.

Although Unravel is looking absolutely amazing the way it is, but we could not help wondering how it will be to solve puzzles with our friends in online or local co-op.

The developer stated that it indeed sounds like a good idea, but for now, the game is all about the single-player experience:

It would definitely be interesting to experiment with in the future, but Unravel is all about the singleplayer experience, it’s about Yarny.

We’re super focused on making that experience the best it can possibly be.

If you see the gameplay trailer posted above, you will see that the world of Unravel is a dangerous one with fierce creatures out there, but that does not mean they are all enemies.

Speaking of the fighting mechanics in the game, Sahlin confirmed that there will be no fighting in the game and the sole task of players would be to find a peaceful solution to their problems:

The world of Unravel can sometimes be a bit dangerous, since Yarny is rather small and fragile.

There are some fierce creatures out there, but there aren’t really enemies as such. There’s no fighting or anything like that.

Your goal is always to find a peaceful, creative solution to the problems that you face.

With current-gen consoles now well into their product cycle, Sahlin also confirmed that Unravel will not launch on Xbox 360 and PS3 due to hardware limitations imposed by those consoles and will also not feature any customization for Yarny:

No, Unravel is not really that type of game [that offers customization].

Unravel is a pretty tech heavy game, both in terms of rendering and physics simulation. We’re focused on building the game for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

With an incredible game such as Unravel, wouldn’t it be amazing to get our hands on some sort of Yarny doll bundled in a Collector’s Edition?

According to Sahlin, Unravel remains a digital-only title, but they might make some sort of tutorial which will allow players to make their own Yarny doll, wouldn’t that be amazing?

I don’t really make those plans, so I don’t know. A lot of people have been asking about some sort of doll, for sure.

But regardless of what happens with that, I suppose we really should make some sort of DIY Yarny tutorial, so people can make their own dolls. It’s nice to get a chance to get a bit creative sometimes.

With no concrete release date to go by, it would be fun to get our hands on the game a bit earlier using the EA Early Access:

Hmm. I don’t really know much about that. But it sounds like it might be a fun thing to do 🙂

Lastly, speaking of the game’s release date, the developers stated that they are continuously working to bring out the game as soon as possible, but despite everything; a concrete release date cannot be provided:

We’re working as hard as we can to get it finished as soon as we can, so hopefully you won’t have to wait too long. But we don’t have a set release date yet to share.

Unravel is slated to launch on PC, PS4, and Xbox One at an unannounced release date.

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