By: Jeff Cater
Developer Grip Games has added a few gears to the mix of their original game and rechristened it Unmechanical: Extended Edition. You assume the role of a rotund flying robot that has been separated from his family while on a nice float-by of a valley. You’ve been sucked deep, deep underground, and it’s up to you and physics to reunite your robot with its family.
In truth, Unmechanical is almost certainly a way to describe the game’s control scheme. The entire game can be played with one side of the controller, or both. To activate your ever-important gravity lift, you can press either X or the Right Trigger. You may also fly with the left or right stick, so finding a comfortable way to play is made incredibly easy. Pressing Triangle at any given point will put a thought bubble above your head providing a hint on how to complete the current puzzle.
The labyrinthine tunnels are often coated in dark muted colors, but Unmechanical does make good use of Unreal tech. Objects in both the foreground and background are very well animated and do a wonderful job immersing you in the world. Conversely, your little robot doesn’t exactly feature a wealth of animation — he’s pretty much a ball with a propeller on it.
Other facets of the environment are done extremely well; whether it is a goblin-type creature skittering to a sewer hole or a swooping, speedy camera popping down to record your movements before snapping back into position. The lighting effects are striking, and the various levels will bathe your robot and its surroundings in all different colors and conditions.
The framerate is always consistent, so you’re truly in for a visual treat. The textures also have a nice sharpness to them, while retaining the gritty feel of a steampunk universe.
Things are a touch barren on the audio side, but it truthfully serves to the game’s benefit. There’s no spoken dialogue (or printed, for that matter), but the soundtrack ably paints the mood of your robot according to the environment and ramps up appropriately when posed with a risky puzzle.
Unmechanical is a wonderful example at what direction platformer games are heading. During your time in the various caverns and tunnels, you will be faced with puzzles of all sorts. Puzzles consist of anything from weight distribution on sets of scales to water displacement, and in Extended you’ll have to deal with puzzles such as these plus a variety of puzzles reminiscent of vanilla games but still different enough to warrant a play.
Sometimes the solution to a puzzle isn’t readily apparent, because there are times when a puzzle can span over three screens worth of distance. That is where you will be using the Triangle help button the most, but once you’ve used it a few times you will catch on to what the game is trying to make you do: think outside the box.
Also, in the Extended portion of the game, it isn’t you who is taken, but it is your identical (except for color) robot companion. You follow them down and pursue them through the inner workings of the tunnel systems, seemingly a step behind the whole time. Extended really does ramp up the intensity of the game a bit, because it becomes a tale of rescue as opposed to simply escape.
It isn’t the longest ride in the park, but it certainly is palatable to a breadth of gamers. Unmechanical: Extended Edition is a very chill, rewarding experience that will truly give you a rare sense of achievement. Maybe in a sequel we will get some co-op; solving puzzles with a buddy while using gravity lifts? Yes, please.