As I get older, I find myself appreciating games that offer very low levels of stress to complete. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dabbled in and finished many games that would be considered “hardcore” (except for Bloodborne, I suppose”). I enjoy putting hours into games that test my reflexes and patience, especially when my efforts make me feel rewarded; but every once in a while, I want a different experience. I want a game that requires some skill, but lacks the looming threat of death or defeat. “Unmechanical” is a small indie title that scratched that itch perfectly for me while also bringing a sense of familiarity by reminding me of other properties that I hold dear to my heart.
On the surface, “Unmechanical” seems like an overtly cute and simple puzzle game, but it’s really so much more. You play as a small, nameless, floating robot in a two-dimensional playing field with literally only one mechanic, a tractor beam on the underside of your robot that allows you to grab onto certain objects. Although the mechanics are very simple and the early puzzles pretty easy, the later puzzles become surprisingly complex and require some serious brain work in order to solve them. It’s genuinely impressive to see how much you can accomplish when you are given so little with which to work.
Another draw for this game is the sense of isolation that reminds me of one of my favorite video game franchises, “Metroid”. Your character is very much alone in this underground labyrinth, and that feeling really drives you to move through the environment to get your robot reunited with his buddies on the surface. The music especially helps to emphasize that empty loneliness while still maintaining the “sci-fi” sound to this mysterious locale. Another series that I feel was a big inspiration for “Unmechanical” is “The Legend of Zelda”. Although the gameplay is completely different, the puzzles are very reminiscent of the mirror puzzles and others that I spent so many hours scratching my head while playing as a kid.
Not only is this game fun and relaxing to play, but it’s also very visually pleasing. It’s 2.5-D setting is very detailed and colorful. It may not have photorealistic qualities, but it’s still stunning on more than one occasion. Each area feels vastly unique, giving a fresh experience after completing different sections of the game. By far, one of my favorite aspects of playing this game is the lack of stress. Your robot can’t “die”, so you’re simply solving puzzles to work your way to the next. The lack of pressure makes for a tranquil, yet rewarding experience.
Although it’s not going to blow your socks off, I still highly recommend giving “Unmechanical” a look. It’s a short experience, but one that’s stuck with me well after I finished it. In fact, it left me wanting a bit more. This worked out well, actually, as the version I played came with an “extended” version of the game. This offered a couple extra areas to work through, and was very welcome.
***”Unmechanical” has been available on Windows PC since 2012, but only recently became available on Xbox One and PS4. The game is also available in two bundles on Xbox One, one with “Q.U.B.E.”, and another that also includes “Tower of Guns”, and “Jet Car Stunts”.***