E3 is always full of surprises. Amongst all the madness, one of the coolest things that can happen is a stealth game drop. This refers to stuff you had no idea was coming, suddenly being available the moment the announcement hits. There were a few of these over the weekend of E3 2018. The Switch saw both Hollow Knight and Fortnite release on the same day, which caused plenty of activity in Nintendo’s corner. Fortnite especially took all the mindshare. But there was another game, one that surprisingly started the whole event off, during EA’s event: Unravel Two.
The first Unravel was a cute game, and one of the earliest examples of EA courting small developers. It was a cute platformer with a cute mascot, one that was certainly endearing. It didn’t light the world on fire, as one wouldn’t want a little yarn creature to try to do anyway, but people respected it. Apparently enough people went for it, and not only is EA continuing its EA Originals brand, but it also greenlit a sequel.
Unravel Two is named as such, because its hook this time is co-op. There are two cute yarn creatures, called Yarnys, this time, and they’re tethered together by a single strand. This connection adds extra complexity to the new sequel, as the two players must work together to solve puzzles. (It’s also single-player, for what it’s worth.) Most of the puzzles seem to be about leveraging everything that comes with two little clumps of weight attached by string to clear obstacles. For example, early moments in the game see the two characters swinging across chasms, pushing small logs, and boosting each other up through climbing.
The layer of complexity from the teamwork element helps give Unravel a more distinct identity. But Unravel Two also cements EA as a company that is in quite a complicated position in 2018. While most of the Internet spent the end up 2017 up until now screaming at EA over loot boxes, the company was also funneling money to the developers of several risky, smaller, and creative games. Games like Unravel Two, A Way Out, and Sea of Solitude, which was announced on the same stage as Unravel Two. EA has a reputation as one of the “worst companies” from the gaming community, yet for all the AAA bumbling (that EA is far from the only contributor of), we see in these games a clear effort to make some kind of difference in the gaming world. Food for thought.
Hopefully, Unravel Two doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. It’s a solid game, perhaps moreso than the first, and unfortunately while the stealth release was a fun idea, its position as one of the earliest announcements of E3 2018 may be a disadvantage. I hope I’m wrong! The EA Originals line is something that deserves to do well, as the creators involved clearly are genuine, passionate people. And while EA is a giant, corporate body driven by profit, there are people who make things move, who deliberately moved towards these games. Unravel Two and games like it are a “put your money where your mouth is” moment for people who want new IP, new experiences from big brands, and more opportunities for the small teams and studios.