Unmechanical was a puzzle game made by Talawa Games and published by Teotl Studios for PC and released in 2012, now its been brought to consoles with help from Grip Games and brings graphical upgrades, improvements and a brand new episode called Extended with more puzzles and story.
You control a little robot with a propeller and dangling little wire arms who has been “abducted”, the gameplay is about solving puzzles with your only ability being beam that lets you pick stuff up like rocks, metal plates, bombs etc and move them around to wherever they need to go. Unmechanical is a fairly simple game to both its strength and its weakness.
The story itself doesn’t have any dialogue, no cut scenes or any sort of cinematic focus, its told through what you do as the robot as you complete puzzles in this underground cavern facility and I liked that style, its development has clearly been focused on the puzzles and gameplay themselves rather than adding superfluous extras that don’t necessarily fit. You also can’t “die” or fail particularly, anything like a door that needs to be hurried through can be triggered again to open and let you in, its not a particularly difficult game although that doesn’t take away from how good it is.
What I found to be the most compelling part of Unmechanical was the variety in the puzzles, only having the ability to pick and move objects up might seem repetitive but the puzzles are set out with some good variety and are fun to do. The puzzles rely on a number of things to progress, such as memorising sequences, using sound, weight, the physics, timing, magnets and so on.
A couple of puzzles that were particularly enjoyable was one where you have some speakers play a short beat and you have to press the buttons in sequences and get the machine to play back the same beat, I thought it would be a rather frustrating but I was able to do it relatively quickly with a reasonable level of trial and error. Another that stood out was where you have to put an object in a pipe then as its fired out you have to use the robot to block the lasers that would destroy the object, not the most mind bending and complex activities but still fun and varied, there are other examples like using bombs and water for example but I won’t spoil it.
The game looks nice in its updated form, it has a typical Unreal Engine 3 grey art style but then it is set in an underground cavern and I didn’t notice any frame-rate problems and the like. I did like the little noises the game makes, nothing remarkable but the sound of completing a puzzle is quite satisfying and if you hit the hovering robot into something he makes little noise I found quite amusing too, just some small things. The music generally is quite eerie in a charming way.
A feature it has to prevent you from getting stuck is a hint system, pressing Y brings up an a little bubble from the robot with a picture if you need it, getting stuck can be a very frustrating although in the few times I tried it (both for testing and needing a bit of help) I found it hit and miss as to whether it gave you the hint or just had a question mark which was frustrating in itself. This was more evident in the Extended level where it didn’t work at all when I tried it (just to see if it did work, really) and if you were genuinely stuck this would be frustrating, its not a major issue and it did generally work in the main game but as I said it was hit and miss.
If you’re looking for a deep and especially challenging puzzle game then I don’t think Unmechanical Extended Edition is what you’re looking for, it’s linear and simple at its core but what it lacks in difficulty it makes up for with fun and varied puzzles. I found that with the main game and extended episode it was a good length and didn’t over stay its welcome, where I was wanting a bit more at the end of the main game I felt satisfied after the Extended level.
Depending on the sort of person you are your mileage will vary with the difficulty and length but overall I found a charming and quirky game about a hovering little robot that focused on what it did best which is varied and enjoyable puzzles, it has a couple of endings to both stories too and the achievements/trophies will add a bit more on top of that too.
Overall I found Unmechanical to be a very enjoyable puzzle game, with variable mileage depending on the gamer but I thought there was enough content to be satisfied with and its a good price for what it offers as well.
Formats: Xbox One (Played), Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 (PS versions releasing 10/11th February)
Developer: Grip Games/Talawa Games/Teotl Studios
Publisher: Grip Games
Unmechanical Extended Edition on the Xbox Store