Ever since Octodad: Dadliest Catch, there have been quite a number of physics-based games that challenge you to do the simplest things in the most awkward way possible. It’s an odd genre that often tends to struggle with balancing frustration and fun, but I usually like to at least give them a shot as they tend to have ridiculous premises that I find quite charming.

Whilst these types of games aren’t quite as commonplace now as they once were, I was still pleasantly surprised when I saw the trailer for UNABLES drop as the colourful visuals and wacky gameplay made it seem like a lot of fun.

So let’s dive into it and see how it fares!

Many thanks to the publisher for the review code.

UNABLES contains fifteen diorama puzzles for you to unlock and play through, and the central concept is the same for each one: guide the protagonist around so that they interact with the given objects in a relatively short time limit. Usually this consists of touching an object, but occasionally you’ll have to interact with it in a certain way for it to actually count.


There are two difficulty options on offer, but given that you can only progress by beating the stage on hard mode (as the easier difficult doesn’t reward any stars), the only reason you’d play on easy is to familiarise yourself with how the stage works and what you need to do. The harder difficulty challenges you to complete the objectives in a rather strict amount of time, but doing so will reward you with three stars; however, should you fail, the game will probably still give you at least two meaning that you’ll still be unlock most stages with relative ease.

Where the difficulty lies is in how you actually manipulate the environment. You don’t actually have direct control of the character, instead you need to rotate the diorama and let gravity and the game’s physics do the rest. Some further interactions can be made using the right trigger, but I honestly found that most of these were pretty unclear and not all that useful for the most part. The dinosaur, for example, is able to roar – but given that the objectives have you collecting eggs and battling a triceratops, I didn’t find any use for it. Another stage, on the other hand, has the action button open doors for you to pass through, which is absolutely essential to reach the stage’s objectives.

Speaking of clarity, I also had issues locating the primary character on a few of the stages too. Even as soon as the second stage – a wonderful street themed after a film noir – the main character was located far from where the camera initially starts. This had me shaking the stage around randomly just hoping I’d accidentally hit an objective. I later realised that flipping the stage upside down usually shows a silhouette of the protagonist – but there’s one notable stage where even that isn’t possible. The character portrait in the corner definitely helps, even if your first playthrough can feel a bit like ‘Where’s Wally’ as you frantically try and find out where your character is.


But there’s still some kind of daft fun in both the scenarios and the game structure. Making a floppy vampire slap against a chandelier whilst trying to get dressed for an event, or guiding a knight through a hedge maze in search of a dragon, is undeniably quite entertaining – especially if you’re playing using the game’s gyro functionality. Spinning your controller around like a madman as stuff gets thrown about is pretty cathartic, even if it can feel like luck is a major factor, and I can’t deny that the game had me grinning from start to finish.

Even though the game can suffer a little from visual clarity at times, UNABLES is a fun physics puzzle game with some really wacky dioramas for you to mess around with. Just make sure you play with the game’s gyro functionality to maximise both the frustration and the fun!