Release Date: 02/09/2016
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Playing as a ball of yarn isn’t a new concept. Nintendo first did it with Kirby’s Epic Yarn and it was a charming blast. Coldwood tries its hand at crochet platforming and it’s done fairly well. I can’t really explain the story much as it really doesn’t exist. Yarny, the character, is on a journey to find various crocheted figures to attach to a photo album. Who this family is and what the reasoning behind Yarny’s animation and coming to life is never explained. The entire idea doesn’t make any sense at all, but we’re here for the platforming.
The game has physics-based platforming and puzzle-solving. There’s a trail of red yarn behind you and this is your lifeline. It can wraps around things, create bridges, and is used as a grappling hook. Simple puzzles involve hooking the yarn on points and creating bridges to drag objects up, while more complex ones involve wrapping the yarn in various ways to activate a pulley or open a door. It’s very interesting and unique and there are so many different types of puzzles, but the problem relies on the mechanics around it.
The platforming is either heavy or too springy. Yarny will jump on an object and immediately bounce off of it in a forward motion only. It’s very hard to control this movement especially when the camera doesn’t pan over quick enough. The game is also hindered by poor pacing. I enjoyed running around pushing objects, pulling levers, and swinging around like a monkey, but once I got my groove and momentum a big puzzle would halt my progress interrupting the trance. I prefer just going forward and enjoying the scenery while swinging around and knocking things over, but once those puzzles started I got frustrated.
Part of this has to do with most mechanics not being explained early on, the objects you need blend in too much with the background, or it’s very unclear that there’s a hook off camera that you must jump to. Checkpoints are placed frequently, but some are misplaced as I would have to repeat a long easy section just to get to the one annoying jump or off-camera grapple and fall again and again. Some areas I started over a dozen times just to get right.
Outside of that, the game plays fine with 13 levels. You will be busy for a good 4-6 hours since some areas are really tough to get through. I loved the scripted moments and some of the dangerous areas where Yarny runs from animals are pretty fun, but those big puzzles just really halted all the fun.
The game looks absolutely stunning with realistic-looking textures and such a huge variety of environments from forests, tundras, toxic waste dumps, construction sites, and swamps. It’s incredible to look at and experience and the music is great despite the same track repeating over and over through each level. It got irritating quick.