Unmechanical was covered in an edition of Indie Spotlight that discussed its origin, development, and gameplay with Marko Permanto from Talawa Games. It's quite an interesting read for anyone remotely interested in independent game development.
A combination of puzzles ranging from simple to complex, an underground world dripping with atmosphere, and a journey lacking narrative define the experience of Unmechanical. Essentially the tale of a helicopter robot that is captured and brought underground in an alien world full of gears and pipes, which requires solving various puzzles and navigating the environments to reach the surface once again. Other than subtle hints scattered about levels, players must come to their own conclusions regarding the game's continual vague, barely present narrative.
Even simpler than the narrative are the gameplay mechanics that have players controlling only the robot's movement and tractor beam. The simple controls are perfectly suited for solving complex puzzles that require precise timing and movement for achieving success. Either using a keyboard, mouse, or Xbox 360 controller, the results are always the same with polished and smooth control of the charming protagonist robot. Additional gameplay mechanics are continually introduced in each new puzzle that prevent the experience from becoming tedious or void of challenge. Later elements introduced range from ticking bombs to mirrors that reflect laser beams, all of which were entertaining to use for the manipulation of puzzles.
The presentation of Unmechanical benefits from use of the Unreal Engine 3's powerful graphics capabilities with both rich, highly-detailed environments and puzzles, along with atmospheric lighting and shadows. All of the game's levels take place underground in a system of caverns that are infused with various underwater and industrial sections. The gameplay experience continually provides enthralling vistas, even with the limited range of underground environments.
As with the game's visuals, the quirky sound effects and memorizing electronic and ambient music tracks continually impress during gameplay. Even the minor sound effect of the robot slamming into the environment never fails to entertain with its charming quality. The original soundtrack by Jonas Kjellberg strikes a perfect balance between creating the proper mood in each level, while never causing too much of a distraction from the actual gameplay. Unmechanical is an atmospheric wonder that must be experienced firsthand to truly experience the attention to detail that's present in each level.
With the addictive puzzle solving and atmospheric environments, it was rather unfortunate that the rest of Unmechanical suffers tremendously from the near lack of a narrative throughout the game's entirety. Players are left with having to decipher subtle hints in the environment and during gameplay to discover for themselves any narrative elements. Unfortunately, the subtle hints and complete lack of details on both the protagonist and setting result in an uneven gameplay experience. Unmechanical contains a sharp contrast between enthralling levels that are rich with atmosphere to the lack of a narrative that engages players till the credits.
Unmechanical is a mixed experience that succeeds tremendously well at the elements of mind-numbing puzzles and environments rich with atmospheric details, yet stumbles in providing players with a proper narrative. With such a detailed and stunningly hand-crafted world, it's rather unfortunate that the experience abruptly comes to a close without providing any context to the subtle hints present during gameplay. Without a doubt, Unmechanical delivers an addictive gameplay experience with its numerous complex and innovative puzzles. The presentation alone is simply one of the best seen in recently released independent games. Those that simply wish to perplex their minds with puzzles need not look any further than the challenges offered in Unmechanical. However, gamers that are seeking a complete experience with both enthralling gameplay and narrative will have to look elsewhere than the charming, yet depth-lacking world of Unmechanical.
Unmechanical is available now for Windows PC through Steam, GOG.com, Gamersgate, and OnLive.
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