Falling down a pipe and awakening without a clue, Unmechanical sees you taking control of a little flying robot lost in a vast underground mine, as it travels through tunnels solving puzzles to open pathways in the hope of ever seeing the surface again. It's a brief, ambiguous journey that leaves a lot open for player interpretation (occasionally too much), but accomplishes a great deal through context and the brilliantly imaginative environment around you. I had no idea what I would be getting when I first started it up, but by the end was immensely glad I had given it a chance.
The first surprise came in the form of the fantastic visuals, which put Unreal Engine 3 to use more effectively than I've seen from some AAA games. Gorgeous lighting, a creative and evocative art style, and some very clever use of cinematography make moving through the dark mines a beautiful affair. It also helps infer a lot of the narrative, that without any exposition is impressively well realized if you take the time to take it all in. I do wish the ending was a bit more substantial and obvious when it was coming, but being able to quickly reload and see both alternatives put them both in better context (even if they still feel a tad rushed).
The second surprise was that despite my prior assumptions, Unmechanical isn't at all a standard physics puzzler. Instead, every puzzle is contextually placed throughout the world making them more meaningful and the world more engrossing, and avoids falling back on the same types of puzzles as each is unique to the area it resides in. None of them are particularly challenging or involved, but the way the all fit so well within the world and manage to loop back around to each other is brilliant, and shows a level or forethought by the developers that's often missed in a lot of games.
My only real issue is that Unmechanical does a very poor job of conveying where and what you need to do next. Half of this is intentional, as it allows the player to discover things on their own instead of being spoon fed along a linear path, but the other half is simply poor design as paths are often obscured or off screen without any indication you are meant to go back and look for them. This mostly meant I had to rely on the hint system a good deal more than I would have liked, but even then it wasn't entirely effective at guiding me to the next area when I got stuck, which more often than not required me to stumble around and explore every nook and cranny until I found a tunnel I'd missed or a door that had become unlocked.
Aside from that frustration, Unmechanical was remarkably enjoyable. Nothing about it is especially memorable, but I was engaged the entire time through and disappointed when it ended so soon. Though it seems to have flown under the radar for most, I hope that this isn't the last we see of Unmechanical, as for the developer's first major release the quality is already impressive and would likely only improve in a more expansive sequel.