Music to remember: Unravel

The times of a few beeps in the background of a game are long gone. While the classic 8-bit sounds and melodies will forever have a place in our hearts, nowadays the technical possibilities create a much larger scope for game audio. Some of the melodies, compositions and tunes featured in games have become classics that will always be remembered and played outside of the games they were conceived for.

The concept of Unravel is very unique and with the release of the game today, we take time to explain how the developers tell the story of the character made of yarn – aptly named Yarny – without a spoken word. Music is the voice of the game.

unravel_coverUnravel (Henrik Oja, Frida Johansson)

When the composer team started working on Unravel, they wanted to create all shades of emotions through music, telling the story of love, longing and joy without one word spoken during the whole gameplay experience. “The music has to be able to break your heart and mend your heart”, as producer Martin Sahlin explains it. The team picked local composers so the designers and musicians would share the same roots. Using local instruments and folk music, they created a completely new world that makes the player emphasize with Yarny and the journey that this little character has to go through, mirroring a whole lifetime with an abstract figure. Without the soundtrack, this would have been impossible.

Yarny’s adventure is more than just a Jump’n’Run, it’s the unraveling of a life’s story. As Yarny’s body unravels to solve puzzles, the player needs to be wary of not unraveling Yarny too much or his body will dissolve. Players use the yarn to build bridges and paths that help Yarny find his way through the world. According to Martin Sahlin, Yarny represents an abstract idea of love and unravels if the character travels too far from what they love.

Telling a story solely through visuals and music is not an easy task, but Unravel’s emotional musical backdrop creates an atmosphere unlike any other. The players feel as part of Yarny’s journey, the music makes the journey personal and draws everyone into this beautiful world.