Unmechanical: Extended joins an ever lengthening list of PC and mobile games making the jump to PlayStation consoles. But, while this quirky puzzle game runs a very real risk of being lost in an ever expanding sea of indies, there's something enticing about its backdrop and robocopter protagonist that might just give it the spark that it needs to find an audience.
While enjoying a leisurely flight with some buddies, your character – a lovable robot-helicopter hybrid – gets separated from his companions and sucked straight down into an underground complex packed full of caverns and mechanical contraptions. With escape the top priority, you must guide your plucky robot through the obstacles blocking your way, mainly through the use of your very handy tractor beam.
With no tutorial at all, you're left initially with the task of working out just how to control your dinky robot. Once you've overcome this challenge and discovered that the analogue sticks move you around while pretty much every single other button on the controller activates your tractor beam, you're good to go.
Things start off slow, and as you get to grips with using your beam to pick up and move debris, you'll initially be concerned that it's not going to be much of a challenge at all. Fortunately, the puzzles do start to get a little trickier as you progress, and thankfully it isn't long before you're left scratching your head trying to work out some of the answers.
Even at its most difficult, however, the release never reaches the mind boggling complexity of games like The Swapper, and anyone who's spent a little time with a similar title in the past will have no trouble at all making it through the story in just a few hours without needing to use the onboard hints system.
While those looking to abuse their brains with a vigorous mental workout will be disappointed, though, there's something appealing about the approach taken in this instance. The game challenges you just enough to push you for a solution, but it never slams you against a brick wall, which results in a steady pace of progression that's frustration free and satisfying.
The title also does a great job of changing up the types of puzzles that you'll be tackling, and even though it sometimes employs the usual overused tropes – such as putting blocks on pressure pads or reflecting light beams using mirrors – it never relies on one particular idea for too long. In addition, it's impossible to fail a puzzle or get your robot killed, which encourages you to experiment and try things out, safe in the knowledge that you're not going to lose any progress as a result of a misstep.
This allows you to really soak up the release's foreboding atmosphere as you fly through deserted caverns and passageways, and this is amped up through its low key music, smart use of 2.5D, and some moody lighting. Whether it's a glimpse of more underground caverns, or what appear to be parts of a long dead creature in the background, you'll often forget that you're only able to move on a single plane, as you get the urge to explore what lies in the distance.
However, despite a lot of positives, the puzzler does falter a bit due to its short length and minimal story. With a narrative that'll be threadbare for many tastes, it'll leave you with way more questions than answers by the time that you reach its conclusion. Even the additional chapter – created especially for this 'Extended' edition of the game – fails to deliver a satisfying ending, instead offering a side story rather than the epilogue that you were probably hoping for.
This isn't helped by the package's approach to storytelling, which leaves you to figure things out for yourself. With no dialogue to help you to interpret what's going on, you're left to put the pieces together based on what's happening around you – but you'll have no idea if you missed a vital morsel of information along the way.
Unmechanical: Extended's hands-off approach works wonders in the gameplay department, and the well designed puzzles – which are testing without being frustrating – make this something of a surprise treat. It would have been nice if the experience was a little longer, and we're a bit agitated that it doesn't come to a decent conclusion, but the personality throughout every aspect of its artistic design helps to overcome these modest shortcomings. As a result, if you're up for a puzzle game – but are normally turned off by more complex entries in the genre – then this is well worth beaming into your collection.