Epic’s Unreal Development Kit has become rather popular in the past few years, and every title with the UDK logo comes with a certain level of quality expectation in terms of graphics and gameplay. Even games that don’t necessarily need the stunning visuals to be a great game such as Dungeon Defenders look very nice. It’s like an unwritten rule when it comes to creating a UDK game, and Unmechanical is no exception.
Taken from the outside world, you are plunged into a series of complex tunnels with an interesting puzzle at every turn. You and your cute side-scrolling robot friend must find out where you are, why you are there and how you can escape. Your robot’s only ability is to grab objects with its beam of light. It has legs or arms, but does not seem to use them. Even if you land your robot on the tunnel floor, the legs just flop to the side helplessly; however, they are quite funny, flailing freely as you navigate the dark maze.
The environment is truly beautiful given that it mostly consists of rocks and cables. Occasionally you can see right back into a cavern full with lava or large complex machinery. The mechanics tie in nicely with your surroundings – you are often required to pull apart piles of rocks, drag open large heavy hatches or pull sections of the floor apart in order to replace a flat battery. At one point in the game, your objective is to collect balls of light that act as power sources from four different areas, bring them into a central area, and plug them into a giant beating heart. This makes you realise that you are not just in some underground hive, but some sort of organic beast – and a huge one at that. I guess that’s what is meant by “Unmechanical.” I also think the name implies your little robot isn’t just a mere drone, but it is up to you to draw your own conclusion.
All objects have a real sense of weight that you begin to get a feel for as you learn what objects can be lifted, and quite often, what can’t be lifted must be dragged or flipped out of your path. It was fun to fling objects through the air in the hope that they would land in their correct location, and was occasionally necessary as most puzzles give you little time for carefully placing objects.
Unmechanical possesses various kinds of puzzles, which range from flicking switches in a specific order, to playing musical notes in a correct sequence. One of the more complex puzzles involves reflecting laser beams by manually moving mirrors and positioning them in such a way that the laser will reach its goal. Most of the puzzles seem creative and offer some unexpected solutions, but the majority of them are not difficult to solve. However, being fairly familiar with the puzzle game genre, I may have solved them quicker than others will.
Unmechanical offers multiple endings and a list of achievements that, in all, will last around four hours, give or take. The unique robotic style of our character is something similar to the characters in the point-and-click puzzle game Machinarium. This, mixed with gameplay similar to the enjoyable jetpack levels of Little Big Planet, make for a satisfying play. The overall appearance is great for a side-scrolling puzzle game, a factor that should work in its favour when it becomes available on iOS devices in the coming weeks.
Graphics aside, it’s a short and sweet adventure that’s a fun way to spend a few hours, but nothing to write home about. The puzzles are interesting while they last but are done and forgotten very quickly. There’s no bigger picture or point to solving the puzzles other than to get to the next one, and that isn’t quite enough for me to say it’s a great game.