Review: The Book of Unwritten Tales
Title: The Book of Unwritten Tales
Developer: King Art Games
Publisher: Crimson Cow
Tagline: Point and Click Adventure with a sharp sense of humor
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Buy it Already
It is funny to think that not more than two years ago, adventure games were struggling to regain a foothold in the gaming marketplace. Once a staple of the industry, they slowly became a niche marketplace until Telltale started the adventure game revolution, and revitalized the genre. And it is a good thing for a company like King Art as they bring their adventure title, The Book of Unwritten Tales to English speaking countries. Here we get an adventure game that doesn’t stray far from the tropes of a standard adventure game, but an interesting story and a healthy sprinkling of humor helps the game stand out from the rest.
As stated, King Art does not try to push too much on the normal boundaries of a standard adventure game. As with any other title, you work your way around The Book of Unwritten Tales, gathering itmes, and solving puzzles that open up new points in the story. However, the way it goes about delivering its story is very interesting as we get to see The Book of Unwritten Tales unfold from point of view of three different characters. Our motley crew of characters starts with Ivo the female wood elf, Wilbur Weathervane the gnome and Nate Bonnet a human treasure seeker. All of these characters are brought into the mix, moving the story forward from three different perspectives. It is a neat mechanic that gives each character their own spin and concepts for solving puzzles.
The story is very interesting, as it has the three characters slowly unlocking the mysteries of a gremlin by the name of MacGuffin, who was researching a horrible evil that needs to be stopped. It sounds generic, but it is actually well written and the voice actors give each line the appropriate sense of humor or gravity based on the situation. It was a story that I thought would come off as boring and standard fare, but the snappy writing along with the subtle nudge and wink humor really help move the pace along.
Adventure games can live or die by the standard of their puzzles, and here might be a point of contention for some. The Book of Unwritten Tales starts off with puzzles that are a bit simple, and then work their way to the point of very challenging. That is a good thing, but there is an issue with finding the puzzle pieces unless you jump into the menus. See, by default, highlighting items when triggered is turned off, and because of that, you can find yourself scanning the screen with your cursor until you see the icon change to an interactive icon. Sure, old school adventure games did not need to highlight items, but they also stuck out a lot more. At one point, I was supposed to pick up a fishing hook, but I could not find the hook until I started running my cursor back and forth across the screen until I found it. Not a fun endeavor. Looking past that inconvenience, I did find The Book of Unwritten Tales to have some great puzzles.
While you are pixel hunting for puzzle solutions, you at least can be comforted by the fact that the game as a whole looks exceptionally gorgeous. Each of the locations has the look of being hand drawn and illustrated. The characters also have lots of subtle moves and motions that are well animated, including the minor players that are involved in a scene.
The biggest part of the winning formula with The Book of Unwritten Tales has to be the humor that the game employs. Some of it stands out and generates huge laughs like someone using a whip and humming the Indiana Jones theme, or another character trying to get an item from a vendor by using “the old jedi mind trick”. But other jokes are well disguised in the background of a scene poking fun without being too overt around it. I loved the jabs at MMORPG titles as well as the idea that magic is used as a catch all to explain the unexplainable.
The Book of Unwritten Tales ends up being a satisfying experience that will burn away 15 hours and you will be the better for it. It combines top notch wit with a solid storyline and cleaver puzzles to become a great adventure experience.
- Cleaver use of wit and humor
- Strong voice acting
- Good puzzle design
- Pixel hunting is frustrating
- Earlier puzzles are a bit too simple
The Book of Unwritten Tales is a good, quality adventure game that is seemingly safe for all ages. While the later puzzles might challenge younger audiences, there is little in the way of content that parents have to worry about. I will note that some of the jokes and references might be missed by younger audiences due to the base material being old.