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The Book of Unwritten Tales (PC) Review

/ Jul 23rd, 2012 No Comments

The Book of Unwritten Tales (PC) Review
The Book of Unwritten Tales (PC) Review

The Book of Unwritten Tales (PC) Review

The Book of Unwritten Tales is very much a classic point-and-click adventure. For those unfamiliar with the genre, that means gameplay consists of pointing your cursor and clicking your mouse on various persons, places, or things. To advance the story, you must problem-solve your way through assorted situations, sticky and otherwise. This requires the player to be clever with using and/or combining the myriad of items acquired throughout the journey. It also requires the player to be mindful of their dialogue choices. There are total of four playable characters, each with unique attributes that are specifically called for throughout the game. At certain points in the story, you’ll have to switch between two or three active characters in order to solve some of the more involved puzzles.

I was heartbroken when Lucas Arts abandoned the point-and-click adventure genre years ago. To me, it was the day the adventure game died. It would be years before we would see much anticipated sequels and new entries pop up, and by then I had already moved onto games that required consoles and more hand-eye coordination. As time went on, I longed for nostalgia and jumped on the HD re-issues and some of the episodic tales I had previously passed on. There has been a renaissance in adventure gaming in recent years and The Book of Unwritten Tales is a part of it. It takes the classic point-and-click adventure formula, throws in a few new twists, and splashes on a fresh coat of paint.

The puzzles in The Book of Unwritten Tales tend to be fairly logical, something that can’t be said for the many of the genre’s forebears. This is a much appreciated aspect of the game, as it lessens the need for the player to seek out hints and walkthroughs. I don’t know whether it’s a product of my experience, or a testament to the thoughtfulness of the developers, but I managed to beat the game without having to consult a single walkthrough. That isn’t to say the game is too easy, as I certainly had my fair share of stumps. If you’re an experienced player, you may find the first couple of chapters to be almost too easy, but the puzzles and interactions do get more complex as the game progresses. While the gameplay feels wholly familiar, TBoUT manages to introduce fresh twists on the genre, like switching between multiple active characters. There’s also a rhythm based mini-game thrown in for good measure. My game clocked in at about 11 hours, and I think 10-12 hours is a good estimate for an average player.

Story

The Book of Unwritten Tales (PC) Screenshot

The Book of Unwritten Tales (PC) Screenshot

The game takes place in a fantasy world rife with orcs, mages, gnomes, wood elves, and dragons. While the setting may be more akin to MMOs and RTS, it provides a uniquely rich backdrop for a point-and-click adventure. It is all out war between the Alliance and the Army of Shadows, and a powerful, magical artefact (sic) is the one thing that can determine the fate of the world. Four unwitting heroes, who have previously stayed neutral in the conflict, find themselves thrown into the middle of the battle between good and evil.

The story here is clearly an homage to the classic genre games of Lucas Arts, employing both humor and pop-culture references that will tug at the heartstrings of any serious adventure gamer. The Book of Unwritten Tales’ humor is very much in the vein of Monkey Island, a series which is lovingly referenced many times throughout the game. It’s also filled with references to movies like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Gremlins, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, to name a few. While the plot isn’t particularly original, it works exceedingly well as a vehicle for great puzzles, humorous dialogue, and nostalgic pop-culture references.

Graphics

TBoUT is an absolutely gorgeous game. Exceeding anything else done in the genre to date; the settings, character designs, and lighting are all top notch. The landscapes and characters are richly detailed, and they manage to convey the whimsical feel of a fantasy world without being overly cartoonish. Though games like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery prove you don’t need amazing artwork to make a great modern adventure game, the high production value of The Book of Unwritten Tales shows you don’t have to give up quality for quantity (or ‘epic-ness’).

Sound

The Book of Unwritten Tales

The Book of Unwritten Tales

The game’s music and sound design both come together nicely to further immerse you into the game world, but where The Book of Unwritten Tales really exceeds is the voice acting. Pulling off humorous dialogue requires some serious talent and the voice-over cast truly delivers. Each voice actor/actress fits wonderfully with their respective in-game persona and their lines are delivered with precision. Sure, not all—or even most—of TBoUT’s verbal interactions are laugh-out-loud funny, but there are several definite chuckle-inducing moments—especially when controlling ‘critter’.

Overall

The Book of Unwritten Tales pays the ultimate homage to the classic point-and-click adventure by honoring the genre’s conventions while also improving on them. It does away with the completely nonsensical puzzles that were an large part of the genre’s earlier entries, yet still maintains a bit of a challenge. The occasional switching from one protagonist’s plight to another’s also gives the game a fresh and unique feel. The graphics and visuals are outstanding. The dialogue is great and the voice actors do a great job of bringing it to life. The Book of Unwritten Tales is a top notch adventure game that any fan of the genre will appreciate.

Overall Ratings – The Book of Unwritten Tales (PC)

Gameplay:

9/10

Graphics:

10/10

Sound:

9/10

Story:

9/10

OVERALL SCORE:

93%

Note that The Book of Unwritten Tales will not be available for purchase via Steam, GOG, etc. until July 31, 2012.

Joe Van Fossen

Joe Van Fossen

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Joe Van Fossen is an avid gamer, film nerd, and unabashed gadget geek. When he's not playing games, watching movies or gadgeteering, he's writing about it (or he's off playing music in some seedy bar somewhere in L.A. or Orange County).
Joe Van Fossen

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