Unmechanical released some time ago for iOS and PC. Not much of a PC or tablet gamer, I had yet to experience the puzzle title until recently, when it graced home consoles for the first time. Now titled: ‘Unmechanical: Extended’, it includes the original release with, you guessed it, extended additional content.
The story itself is more or less non-existent and told only through silent background scenes or in the puzzles themselves. Not to say that is a bad thing, as a story isn’t needed to push the game along, but for gamers who notice all the little details and can use a bit of their own interpretation, the story is there.
You take control of a small robot propelled by a helicopter-like blade mounted on top of his head. Controlled by thrusts and directional movements, you can only use your momentum and your trusty tractor beam to lift and move objects around the world. This simplistic control scheme may sound a bit too easy, but when used with the style of puzzle-solving the game contains, it just feels right.
Most puzzles consist of moving objects around in a certain order to trigger buttons or levers in order to open the path ahead. This is where the tractor beam comes into play. Small objects are easier to move, and of course some of the larger ones feel like serious work to shift around. Manipulating objects to open or change different valves, levers and so on, are the key to the puzzles in this game. Some are very basic and run-of-the-mill, while others will leave you scratching your head. Luckily the in-game hint system does just what it’s supposed to do and can help you out of a puzzling situation without ruining the solution.
While the puzzles in the main game can become a bit repetitive and consist of things we’ve all seen and played before, the best of them lie in the ‘Extended’ section of this release. With more of a storyline, albeit a clichéd saving-your-robotic-pal-from-certain-robot-doom, the new content feels more polished, varied and of overall higher quality than the main portion of the game. It seems as if the developers took note of what people liked and disliked from the original release and improved on it for this new extended version.
The game itself looks fairly nice. The environments are dark, dreary and cavernous. The game also leaves you to re-trace your path on a few occasions and mixed with the slow movement of your trusty little robot, it seems the developers wanted you to take in the visuals as much as possible. Large robotic arms, heavy machinery and metal giants all working together in the foreground and background really give you a sense of how small the robot you control really is, and it leaves the player feeling helpless in a cold, industrial world.
The audio work is great and well-used. The echoes of the caves, the buzzing of the small robots and larger machinery all blend together nicely in a lovely underground world. The music is nothing to write home about, nor does it detract from the game itself. I kept imagining the game needing a sort of sombre techno beat slowly building in the background as if controlled by the large machines themselves; but the music we are given will suffice.
I must say, the game is rather short. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just don’t expect the title to last you more than a day’s play—unless of course you choose to replay the title, but there really isn’t much incentive to do so. The game doesn’t need to be long; the length feels right. I myself usually start to feel the length of puzzle games before I finish them, but with Unmechanical, it was over and I felt as if my puzzle thirst was nearly quenched to perfection.
In conclusion, Unmechanical: Extended brings a great little puzzle game to home consoles with a bit more content to enjoy. While the new content may be better than the main game itself, it’s still a great way to spend and afternoon. Just don’t expect a journey lasting more than five hours or so.