If you had told a 14 year old me that physics was fun, I would have probably hit you over the head with a bag full of Magic the Gathering cards; it was one of my worst subjects at school. However, the likes of Half Life 2 and many indie puzzlers have proven that not only is physics fun, it can make for some of the most inspired games. Unmechanical is perhaps not at that level, but does offer a series of increasingly complex puzzles that will require you to use the game’s physics to solve them.
You play as a flying robot whose only power is the ability to create a tracker beam underneath themselves that can pick up objects. You have been mysteriously taken from the surface and find yourself trapped underground with only your wits to help you escape. The underneath is full of strange mechanisms and industrial machines that will have to be prodded and pocked if you are to get home again.
With little in terms of traditional narrative and no voice acting, Unmechanical is a straight forward puzzle game that will have you wracking your brain. There are a surprisingly large number of things that you can do when only equipped with a beam. The game starts off simply enough and eases you into the gameplay by showing you the basics. It is later on that things become tricky. Like any good puzzle game there is a gradual increase in the challenge. Unmechanical can be tricky at times, but as the puzzles are mostly based on physics, it is mostly you the player who is in error and not the game.
As a series of puzzle chambers Unmechanical could be a little dry, but Teotl Studios have placed our mechanical hero in a strange and entertaining world. It has the offbeat feel of The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom and some of the most haunting music I have heard. The blips and blops that play in the background really add to the sense of wonder as you explore the large puzzle areas; rising in noise as you get closer to a conundrum’s conclusion.
Although out on PC and current generation consoles it would be easy to dismiss Unmechanical as a Flash game with bells and whistles; it is certainly not. The graphics are hand drawn in style, but look lush and there is a lot going on in the background to look at. The physics in the game are also impressive, you get the sense that they feel right and they aid you, rather than hamper.
Unmechanical – Extended Edition comes with a further campaign that adds new and trickier puzzles as you try to save what I assume is a robot of the opposite sex? The two game campaigns combined are not huge, but should keep most people playing for between 4-6 hours, depending on their skill at puzzle solving. Overall, a very good physics puzzler that will appeal to fans of classic feeling downloadable titles.