As a title that originally started out as a university project, Talawa Games' Unmechanical
was eventually released on PC in 2012 before later making its way onto iOS. Now, with the help of publisher Grip Games, the developer has brought the title to the latest generation of consoles and they've even added extra content to make the jump seem worthwhile. Is Unmechanical: Extended Edition
going to boggle our minds, or will you wish that you'd never set eyes on the little robot?
The game begins as our protagonist robot is flying through the countryside with his friends when he is pulled down into a pipe that has mysteriously emerged from the ground. After tumbling downwards through a network of pipes, the robot finds himself in an underground cavern. What is this strange world? Why are you here? Well that is part of the mystery. All that you need to know is that you must escape this strange world of maze-like, mechanised, underground chambers. If you were looking for a game with a comprehensive story then you've come to the wrong place. By the time that you've finished your adventure, you will be left with more questions than answers.
It's a good job, then, that the game doesn't suffer for this lack of story -- focus is placed squarely on the puzzles that you need to solve to escape. The controls are very simple. The helicopter rotor blades that allow the robot to fly are controlled with either joystick. Meanwhile, the robot's tractor beam, which is used to pick up and move the objects needed to solve the puzzles, can be controlled by every other button with the exception of
, which is used to provide hints. The physics system works exactly as it should -- heavy objects actually feel like an effort to lift with the tractor beam -- so you will never be cheated out of a solution by the game working against you.
The puzzles range from simply pulling a lever or putting an object on a pressure pad, to the more complicated arranging of lasers or sequence memorisation. Some puzzles may be contained to a single room, while others involve two or three locations to be brought together for the solution. The game is perfectly balanced so that players are never left completely stumped. The solution is always completely logical, things are never over-complicated and rarely are there red herrings to throw you off. You're given as much time as you need to solve each puzzle and it is impossible for the little robot to die. Most people are unlikely to need the hint system.
While the premise of the puzzles may not seem completely fresh to anybody who has played a similar game before, the puzzles also never feel repetitive or over-used either. Unfortunately, this may be because the game is a very short experience. Even with the game's additional Extended chapter, you will finish the whole thing (including the achievements, of which there will be more later) in five hours.
Speaking of that Extended chapter, how does it fit in? Well, it's an independent story that sees a slightly bigger robot and his friend on a trip through a very similar looking countryside. When his friend is captured by that familiar pipe, the robot ventures down into the mysterious underground world to try to rescue him. Aside from a bit of extra gameplay, this chapter adds very little to the game. There are no new powers, the puzzles play out along a similar vein and you learn nothing extra about the world through which you have passed. If anything, the solutions to the puzzles may seem less obvious, especially when accessible vents are hidden out of your way.
As far as the achievements go, this game is easy to complete. While there are the typical unmissable story progression achievements, there are also achievements for each of the game's two endings, plus two achievements for the Extended chapter's two endings. There is one achievement for not using the game's hint system. The list is then completed by eight missable achievements, awarded for completing tasks in a certain way throughout the main game. None of these achievements are particularly challenging. However, if you don't take the opportunity to earn these in your first playthrough, you will need to start a new save file to go back for them as the game sorely lacks a chapter select option and you only ever have one save file. You have been warned.
In summary, this is a neat little puzzle game that will keep puzzle aficionados content. You won't know anything more about the world that you leave behind, nor will you know why you were ever there, but you will be satisfied at a job well done. Even if the journey is a bit short, the easy gamerscore is sure to be a bonus.The reviewer spent just under five hours floating through tunnels and attempting to save a little robot from uncertain doom. This earned her all of the game's 17 achievements. A PlayStation 4 copy of the game was provided courtesy of the publisher for the purpose of this review.