We don't remember how long it took for the little robot to captivate us. At first glance he's just a load of scrap metal with a propeller on his head, but after a few minutes with the hero of Unmechanical Extended, you start to see him for what he is. Lamps turn into eyes, the lower segment becomes a mouth, and hanging hoses transform into skinny little arms. However, our connection to this character doesn't come from this metallic critter's helplessness, but rather it comes primarily from the strange atmosphere of the game; it's what helps bring the little robot to life.
Unmechanical Extended is a puzzle adventure about a lovable robot in a dystopian future. The developers released the game back in 2012, but now it has returned in this extended edition, tidied up for the current generation of consoles and with some new content. The main game makes its comeback alongside an additional episode that includes new puzzles and environments. During which we take control of the flying robot, who having been taken to an underground facility, must henceforth make his way through the system.
This sounds a lot easier to do than it actually is, and this is because our options at any given moment are fairly limited. Apart from flying, the only ability of the robot is an electromagnetic beam and that allows us to lift lightweight objects and release them. This beam, our flying skills, and logical thinking, must coalesce in order to complete this short story.
Depending on your skill when solving the physics puzzles and completing skill tests, the playing time varies between two and four hours. The Extended episode provides a bit more variety, however, it's focused mainly on providing an extra challenge for experienced players. While the level of difficulty in the main game is very pleasant, the side story is quite tricky and requires more thought. If things do go wrong the little robot will usually have a solution in mind, that is if the game recognises that you're stuck.
The game deliberately avoids intrusive story elements. All the relevant information we need is served to us via background animations or it's simply absorbed as we fly by. It is an approach that fits well with the overall design of the game. In Unmechanical Extended there is no dialogue and no text. For the musical score the game chooses calm melodies, mechanical sounds effects, and the noises that come from our protagonist during accidental collisions (these sound so authentic that they will make you fly more carefully).
From an audio-visual perspective, Unmechanical Extended is pretty impressive. Our journey takes us deep into the darkness underground, past crumbling steel structures and rusted pipes. Since the environment is oversized and feels so large, the robot seems even more lost. But if you think that you're going to be down there all alone, abandoned, you'd be wrong. The atmosphere benefits from the simple audio and its calming effect, but more hectic situations are also captured perfectly.
The biggest criticism we can think of is a lack of replay value and the relatively short length of the game. Once completed you will find little incentive to manoeuvre once again through the labyrinthine corridors, although the new extended episode does add some value. This seemingly minor blemish is the only mark against what is actually a well-assembled product. Anyone who is okay with that kind of brevity, and those who like the unconventional approach on show, will enjoy the game and its protagonist; the little pile of scrap who flies quietly into the player's heart.