This is not actually a little blue apple, though you might be forgiven for thinking so. It’s a lonely little helicopter, who got separated from its little helicopter friends and sucked into a bizarre underground labyrinth.
The dark and twisty maze in question is a series of contradictions. Some areas move right to left; others, left to right. The world looks to have three dimensions, and yet operates in only two. The space was clearly forged with intent, and yet appears to be as much organic as it is machine-made.
The experience is tinted with shades of both Machinarium and Portal. The player, as a helicopter, has no hands. Our little blue friend does, however, have a surprisingly powerful tractor beam that gives it an ability to pick up or pull things. Or it can ram into them, to give them a push. That’s about it, as far as proactive actions go. And yet, it’s just enough. The limitations push the player to think in a way that makes the many puzzles seem logical and intuitive, if occasionally comically forced. (There’s a Simon room that, while lovely, seems thoroughly out of place, for example.)
The end result is a game that’s both adorable and mysterious. The world invites exploration, and with no particular time limits or ways to get permanently stuck, that exploration is leisurely and calming. Unmechanical is cute, just challenging enough, and not too terribly long.
Unmechanical began life in 2011 as a student project in Sweden. According to the team, “Most work has been done on the students’ free time, both during school and the following internships when the team was spread out across Europe.” On its own, it’s a fun and lovely project. As a first game from a new studio made of up new designers, it becomes an impressive project to boot.
Unmechanical is available today via Steam, GOG and GamersGate.