Unmechanical: Extended Edition - PS3

Release Date:

11 February 2015

Viewing UK:

Also on USA.
7.0

Summary:

Unmechanical: Extended is an award-winning platformer/puzzle game loved by countless players around the world, now coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 with a brand new “Extended” story episode that contains even more puzzles and mysteries to solve. Our story starts when you are abducted into a secret underground world full of fantastic machinery. Flying freely through the strange world, you have to solve a wide variety of puzzles and mysteries. The journey to freedom begins.


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Posted:
2020-03-10

Den_Merry

Writer

PlayStation 3

7.0

Unmechanical: Extended Edition was developed by the team at Grip Games for a re-release on the PS3, PS4 and Xbox One this past January. Having missed the original game the first time around we decided to pick up this 2D puzzle/platformer hybrid the second time it made its way to our neck of the woods. Adding the game to our digital library on the XB1 revealed more than a couple of things about the title and we’ll dig into them if you have the patience. Extended is a new twist on the original Unmechanical and it is definitely worth a peak at if you enjoyed your first time through with the game. Without any further dithering, let’s get down to it.

Platforming games are all the rage right now, right behind Rogue-Like titles, and subsequently they are flooding the Xbox Marketplace. Most platforming titles that get a release are safe and tepid affairs that really don’t push the gamer in any one direction. They are breezes that you don’t ponder too much on once everything is said and done. Still, Unmechanical: Extended Edition got our attention because the genre has released some wonderful independent platformers: Braid, Limbo, and Ori and the Blind Forest all come to mind. It’s an easy genre to develop but a hard one to stand out within.

So in Unmechanical you begin the game with little preamble and less backstory. You are a robot without a name. You have the ability to fly and you are stuck in some sort of strange subterranean complex. Everything is dark, dimly lit, slightly Steampunky, and definitely complicated. Your goal is to do what you can do: push onward. As you push left to right in this 2.5D puzzler you will see systems of tunnels, huge industrial complexes, and even stranger more unique structures that allude to something else, or someone else, living there. Whether you want to call the lack of backstory 'mysterious' or 'lazy', you won’t be finding too many answers to the questions that begin to assault you as you play through the game. Still, the journey in and of itself is satisfying.

Gameplay in Unmechanical is simple bordering on negligent, and somehow we are okay with it. You move your robot with your joysticks and you have to navigate him through the different environmental courses that you come across. Occasionally you will have to make use of the gravitational beam that is at your side. With this beam you can move small objects, active levers and switches, and solve many a puzzle. The puzzles are low stakes but they get more and more difficult the longer you play. Still, don’t mistake the simplicity of controls for the simplicity of the game.

You can use your beam to reflect lasers off of numerous mirrors, in order to navigate tough light based puzzles. Otherwise you’ll have to scan the room you are in for objects that could otherwise help you move forward. Cogs, gears, and metal rods rule the realm when you are a robot in need of supplies, so always keep your eye out when you are navigating around. At its most difficult the puzzles are still solvable and none of them feel cheap enough to make you feel cheated, one way or the other.

Perhaps the most unique wrinkle that Unmechanical: Extended Edition has on offer is that the stakes remain relatively low throughout the gameplay. This might turn off a bunch of gamers, but we found it to be oddly peaceful and borderline zen like. In fact, if we dug deeper, we’d say that this game emulates the experience of a sentient robot: simplicity bordering on actual mundane. There are no enemies in this entire game and you can’t collect damage. You don’t die, you just get stuck. The point of the game is to answer three simple questions: Where can I go? What do I have to do to get there? And where do I go after that? You have no level clock pressuring you, no traps, and certainly no pitfalls to be lost into.

So why play a game like Unmechanical? The threat of conflict can be used so wonderfully in the platforming genre and, in fact, it is sort of what the games are built around. The reason you should play Unmechanical: Extended Edition is that the game riffs off of some of the best in the industry: Limbo and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. This is a game about immersion, exploration, and imagination. Most of the experience is nuanced and comes down to you crafting answers to the questions that go unanswered and unbidden in your head.

With that being said, the lack of opposing AI and no multiplayer means that the replayability of this game is dreadfully limited. You are looking at one enjoyable run through the game before you have experienced what there really is on tap. That’s okay, the title is cheap, but it is definitely something for frugal gamers to consider going forward.

The look of the game is 2.5D platformer down to a T. Below the surface, in this subterranean lair; you quickly grow to appreciate the subtle details put in place by the developers. Nooks and crannies along with beautifully textured backgrounds allow for a sense of depth and isolation that you wouldn’t have thought possible just glancing at the screen shots. Sometimes we did run into issues with foreground/background blending together but that was only a small problem and it rarely did occur. The soundtrack definitely adds to the mood of the game but there is nothing standout worthy about it.

The original version of Unmechanical hit Steam almost four years ago and the new version has a little bit more on offer. There is an extra chapter of play added to the main menu, contributing a couple of hours of playtime. Other areas of the game have been tweaked and refined but there isn’t anything newly invented.

We have to give Unmechanical: Extended Edition a lukewarm suggestion to fans of puzzlers and platformers, but warn them that this game is definitely a slow burner.

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By:

Grip Games

Release Date:

11/02/2015

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