Emily Hessney Lynch
UNRAVEL TWO & SKETCHBOOK ARTIST'S RED
Updated: Feb 20, 2020
I am not much of a video gamer, but within the last couple of years, I’ve been making more and more forays into the world of video games. I made it through four out of five levels of the delightful Untitled Goose Game (truly an irresistible game), have tried my hand at Mario Kart (and gotten immensely frustrated), and have slowly rolled around a ball of objects in Katamari Damacy. That’s about the extent of my video game experience. Usually you’ll find me reading way too many books--over 100 in a year. But in an effort to find new hobbies and spend more time on joint activities with my husband, I dove headfirst into a game he found on sale: Unravel Two. He’d heard it was a great game for partner play--especially if your spouse wasn’t into video games or had little experience with them! It was perfect.
Unravel Two features yarn creatures called Yarnys doing a whole lot of platforming. Yes, I had to learn what platforming is--it’s basically jumping and climbing around. My favorite part of this platforming game is that your Yarny can ride on the other Yarny’s back. There’s some complicated swinging involved, and I struggled at times. Luckily, I could hop on back of my husband’s Yarny and he’d carry me to safety. The scenery is beautiful- forests and lakes, small Scandinavian towns, and is nicely balanced with lovely, haunting music. At one point, we were chased by a wild turkey. Another time, a fish kept slapping us as we tried to hop across lily pads. The game occasionally meanders into more industrial settings, but for the most part, you only end up looking at pretty things.
The game is a bit weak on plot--I certainly wouldn’t call it story-driven. These ghostly phantoms of teenagers appear at the beginning and end of each level, and you follow them. It’s nearly impossible to figure out what’s going on, but you can tell it’s not good. They get yelled at, they run away, there’s a fire. I had to google it to figure out the actual plot- turns out they’re children running away from a toxic and abusive group home. Yikes! The Yarnys you play as have nothing to do with the children- we’re not saving them or anything. The tone of the game is bleak despite its stunning visuals. For example, one chapter is subtitled: “in which the machine tries to grind us down.” BLEAK AF.
What wine would pair with this eclectic game? It was tough to figure out! I finally landed on Sketchbook 2014 Artist’s Red. The wine is fruity and fresh, not too light, not too heavy. It’s a nice complement to the game. It has a jammy vibe that almost makes you think of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich the runaway kids might snack on. To kick this pairing up a notch, I thought I’d add in a sweet treat. When the puzzles get complicated and the levels take too long to finish (because one of the two players is notoriously bad at lassoing and swinging), munch on a pretzel pop-tart! These debuted at the Super Bowl with an ad featuring the one and only Jonathan Van Ness from Netflix’s Queer Eye. I can totally see the angsty kids in the game eating pretzel pop tarts while on the run. I bought the ones filled with chocolate, and their sweetness is a nice complement to the fruity wine and somewhat depressing overtone of the game.
Try it and see what you think! I’d love to hear how you like it or what other pairings you find--tweet me at @servemethesky.
Emily Hessney Lynch is the owner and founder of Serve Me the Sky Digital and director of I Heart ROC. She’s a digital strategist and writer who loves books, dogs, and coffee. You can learn more about Emily at www.servemethesky.com.