A humour packed point and click adventure that will please old school PC gamers
Game review: The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed / Playstation 4
AS a sequel to a six year old PC game by German developers, King Art Games, it is fair to say that few Xbox One or Playstation 4 owners will have played the Book of Unwritten Tales series. This should not put them off from trying it its second instalment, however. Far removed from the po-faced offerings that are all too common in adventure games, the plot of Unwritten Tales is a lightsome and self effacing farce that pokes fun at the world of fantasy and its innumerable tropes.
Following on from the latest Broken Sword game and a reboot of the King’s Quest series, this is the third point and click adventure to grace the latest generation of consoles, an unlikely yet entirely welcome development that mirrors the way the genre has regained a niche foothold in the PC market. Unlike those two franchises, The Book of Unwritten Tales is less well known, but on top of its entertaining parody elements, its taxing puzzles and beguiling art style means that it deserves to attract as wide an audience as possible.
Visually, the game feels alive with thoughtfully designed backdrops
The first thing that strikes you about Aventasia, a teeming realm brimming with humans, elves, gnomes and myriad other creatures, is just how lovely it looks. Its backgrounds are rich and colourful thanks to a technique known as projection mapping, which allows pre-rendered images to be placed over 3D models. It sounds simple enough, but visually, it ensures your senses are constantly stimulated over the course of generous 20 hour or so campaign, with every environment feeling alive and distinct as colour pops through layers of light and shade.
Play on and your smile will routinely break out into laughter. Unwritten Tales is that rarest of beasts - a genuinely funny game. At times the humour is nuanced and satirical, continuing the tradition of Ron Gilbert’s Monkey Island series and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. On other occasions, it simply comes up with great one liners, many of which are aimed firmly at other games, but also entertainment behemoths such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. The game also has inspired pokes at its own medium (look out for one hilarious time travelling sequence in particular)
The story is flippant but the dialogue is delivered superbly
The engaging dialogue is helped enormously by the committed delivery from the voice cast. It might not include any famous names, but the actors on hand produce a range of quirky and idiosyncratic voices and accents to populate the world, a la Fable. Allied to likeable characters - the highlight being the splendid named Wilbur Weathervane - and you soon become involved with the story, even when it is at its most flippant.
Actually exploring the environments needs little in the way of explanation. It is a classic point and click interface, the PC controls for which have been dutifully mapped over to console controllers. On the Xbox One joypad, they work well, although perhaps make play a little more sluggish than it would be if you had access to a mouse. But in a game with so much detail and possibilities to waste time wandering around, the gentle pace feels fitting. The puzzles are also very satisfying, with the right mix of logic and exploration, even if one or two of them feel a little too obscure, but in an otherwise excellent point and click adventure, these little faults can be forgiven.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Combining items in your inventory is crucial to solving puzzles, so experiment with your stash.
Use the controls in a new environment to find out what items you can interact with.
To move from one scene to the next quickly, double click on the exit.