I began my interview with Martin Sahlin of Coldwood Interactive not by speaking of the upcoming Unravel, but of one of the developer’s past titles: The Fight: Lights Out.
“I wouldn’t say it was very good,” he said, laughing at the way I chose to describe it to him. “It was… interesting.”
“It didn’t start out as a Move game originally; it was supposed to be couch multiplayer thing. A little bite-sized game with physics that was supposed to be for fun. We wrote the initial concept for it back in 2007,” Sahlin explained.
While not one of his favourite titles, it still means an awful lot to Sahlin. Without it, we wouldn’t have Unravel.
“I was never a fan of that chauvinist, brauny approach [The Fight took]. It was always meant to be light-hearted multiplayer fun and ended up being something quite different,” he mused. “I guess that’s the thing, when you’re not super experienced; that was our shot at making something bigger and I guess we kind of lost it a bit. That’s why I say it was an interesting game rather than a good game – because it was very much a learning experience. ‘This is how it works; let’s never make something like it again.’”
Those at Coldwood took what they could from the experience and continued on. Physics, something at the core of The Fight, went on to play a huge part of Unravel.
“I think that’s something that’s been part of our studio from the start – we love physics in games,” he said. “They’re super fun. I think Gabe Newell who described the theory of fun – the more ways a game can respond to playing interaction, the more fun it is. Basically, for us, this is the best way for us to do that. We want to make it your experience.”
Sahlin and the team at Coldwood are very cautious now, protecting their vision of Unravel from start to finish.
“When I was running around in the woods, taking pictures [of Northern Scandinavia], I realised it was exactly what I wanted the game to look like,” Sahlin explained. “With The Fight, we lost track of what the game was.”
He paused to reflect.
“Actually, a lot of the games we’ve worked on never really felt like ours. That’s why I was super-keen to have this game be all about us. To have everything mean something to us. To share my home with you, and I hope you’ll like it.”
Unravel will be available next year on Xbox One and PS4.
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