Unmechanical: Extended, All things serve the beam

As your stumpy robot character wakes up with beeps and boops, you instantly get a feel of how heavy and weighted it feels a single propeller on your head can barely lift your weight, and your slack, useless arms hang limp at your side. ‘Okay,’ you think, ‘I’ve got to rely on gravity.’ You quickly learn that you can interact with the world a world that’s somewhere between indie sleeper hit Machinarium and the grimly anti-industrial Oddworld by means of a weak tractor beam. It’s like the point-and-clicks of old, but sadly, with less depth. The one-button mechanic is explored effectively, sure, but there’s still a lot more it could have done.

The presentation of the world is fantastic, granted, and the uncomfortable mix of natural oddities with mechanised structures keeps your interest through the whole three hours the game takes to finish. Thing is, in that time, you get very little given to you in terms of story or exposition: even if you’re looking for any kind of environmental storytelling and whatnot, you’ll come away detached, uneducated in Unmechanical’s world. When you’ve got puzzle games like The Swapper out there doing the whole ‘mute game’ thing so well, it seems a shame that Unmechanical would just throw its world away like that.
“The one-button mechanic is explored effectively, but there’s still a lot more it could have done”

The puzzles, at least, are interesting. Unmechanical started its life as a student project, and there’s definitely a sense of that fresh creativity within its mossy depths. From Bop It! style mimicry to reflection-based mirror puzzles, Unmechanical will force you to think outside the box on occasion to overcome its trickier areas. The pacing is a little off for a puzzler, though: we found ourselves dashing through most of the game, only to spend most of our playtime smashing our head against a double-threat puzzle. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but when your game is only three hours long, you don’t want to spend a third of it in one place.

Unmechanical Extended is great if you’ve got an afternoon spare and fancy some mid-grade puzzling. This isn’t Monkey Island or Machinarium, though, so don’t expect to have these puzzles seep into your mind and keep you awake. Its presentation is lovely, and the one-button mechanic starts off well, but the further you pick your way through the game, the more the whole concept becomes a little undone. Luckily, due to its brevity, you finish it before you can really geta look  behind the curtain.

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