Unmechanical drops you into an underground world and lets your figure out what you are doing, all on your own. Playerstake control of a little robot helicopter type dude who has been sucked down a tube and separated from his friends on the surface. You are tasked to push through the puzzle filled labyrinth and escape back to the world above.
You would be forgiven for sitting still and waiting for something to happen at the start, or at the least a dialog box with some form of instructions, but no. Unmechanical drops you in blind and leaves you to figure everything out on your own; which is actually quite a refreshing change from the typical tutorial filled games of today. I could tell you the controls, but I won’t because learning is all part of the fun.
All of the puzzles rely on you to either move or change something about an object, like moving a rock or flipping a lever. Since you are controlling a helicopter robot with flappy tentacles that do nothing apart from look cool when they move from the brilliant physics; you might be wondering how you would complete the puzzles without arms. You are given the use of a surprisingly strong tractor beam that is built into your little buddy’s body. You are tasked with moving through multiple areas, you get to each new section by following vents or tunnels that are opened up as you go and the transition between areas is very smooth.
As you can imagine at the start the puzzles are simple, but they do get progressively harder up to the point where you can sit there staring at one of them for a long time looking for clues on how to complete it. Unmechanical doesn’t give you any luxuries like that though; you are literally relying on yourself to think of way to complete the puzzles.
With it being set as a 2D side-scroller in a 3D environment it can be easy to misinterpret some objects to be in the foreground when they are actually in the background and vice-versa, causing you to bump into objects which makes your character give off a little “oof” and blink his eyes just to make sure you know that you annoyed it a little. Not only will you be piloting through the underground air but a wrench is thrown into the works and the environment changes up a little, for a bit. At one point on your travels, you might notice that there is something a little more going down there than you first thought.
Developed using the Unreal Engine, Unmechanical gets an impressive environment to stare at while you’re working out the puzzles. Although the world is simple the graphics are brilliant, and having the 3D background gives you plenty of things to look at off in the distance. There are even some cool little Easter egg type events and objects around to give you a little giggle.
Sadly, the sound is the only actual downfall of Unmechanical, while for the most part the music in the background is actually not bad and it’s easy to tune it out while you’re trying to figure out the puzzles. On the other hand, if you are getting really frustrated with a puzzle the music can just make it worse. Most of the time the little robot won’t make too much noise, except for the “oof” when you bump into things or the beep of joy when you find what you’re looking for. The tractor beam however, makes a rather irritating noise, and at times when you need to be carrying something for an extended period of time and the constant whir is enough to annoy most.
In the end Unmechanical is a brilliant game, it’s both fun and challenging to the point of frustration and that is what I like to see in a puzzle game. It’s even better if you turn down the music to avoid flicking your headset off your head. Although the story isn’t obvious and deep, there is one there if you take your time and pay attention to what is actually happening and because there is no time limit you can take as much time as you want to explore the world you are trying to escape from.
Unmechanical is available to buy from GOG.com for $9.99 and is definitely worth the time and money.