Review: The Book of Unwritten Tales 222 Feb 2017 0
Review: The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
Released 01 Feb 2017
The first puzzle that had me scratching my head when playing point-and-click adventure The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is that although the first game remains unwritten on mobile devices the publishers have seen fit to release this sequel. With many games you can happily dive into a sequel without actually having played the original but for any player visiting the land of Aventasia for the first time you cannot help but feel like a stranger at a party. You hover around the fringes laughing nervously without having a clue what is going on as the characters happily chat away about old times, make self-referential jokes and exchange knowing smiles. I felt like gulping down my drink, grabbing my coat and making a beeline for the exit.
However, hang around for a little while longer and you’re bound to hear a few witticisms that anyone with a passing interest in all things geeky will be able to relate to. To help ease your way into this new social circle the characters are a likeable if stereotypical bunch. There is the sassy, headstrong princess who is fed up with her controlling mum, the bumbling but good-natured professor and of course the roguish but lovable adventurer and his weird furry sidekick.
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is a traditional point and click adventure that doesn’t stray too far away from the Monkey Island format, it even has loading pauses when you half-expect to hear the laboured whirling of an ancient floppy disk drive. Yet, as you take in the wonderful artwork, strong characterisation and terrific voice acting you quickly come to realise that this game isn’t a cheap knock-off but a labour of love and that no corners have been cut in trying to provide the most immersive experience possible. There’s 20 hours of adventuring in this sprawling 3MB fantasy world and not an in-app purchase in sight.
The shift over from PC isn’t without its faults, sometimes control and movement feels a little sluggish. This isn’t helped by the fact that like an over-protective mother the game insists on pausing briefly to save every time you make the slightest progress. Then there are those times like when you have to shift two nearby levers to open windows when you just yearn for the accuracy of mouse control. Selecting items on the inventory screen is sometimes hit and miss and to make matters worse, the inventory screen itself often obscures the action so you can be constantly opening and closing your inventory and accidently pressing the nearby options menu as you try different objects to solve puzzles.
Like most games of this type the puzzles range from the blindingly obvious to the teeth gnashingly obscure. They are usually logical in a twisted kind of way and often humorous giving you a warm glow of satisfaction when you come up with a solution to a particularly taxing situation. Eventually the various character plot lines will merge together, giving the characters the opportunity to work together and the game designers the opportunity to come up with an array of even more fiendish puzzles.
There is a little too much walking around, not helped by the fact that sometimes you cannot pick up an item until you have met a condition elsewhere. It is irritating, for instance, that you cannot pick up the potted plant until you have ventured into the garden and had a chat and a nosy round. This means that you constantly have to go back and re-examine items in the hope that you have met some condition that allows you to add them to your inventory.
By their very nature adventure games are driven by plot and characterisation, so it seems a strange decision indeed to put new players at such a disadvantage by not giving them the opportunity to experience the first game on their platform of choice, but that is hardly the game’s fault. The characters, helped along by the brilliantly written dialogue and exceptional voice acting really bring the game to life. You soon realise that the people you meet are decent sorts and you feel like you really want to help the princess find a cure for her “illness” and lend a hand to the hapless professor who is having problems with his know-it-all-pupil.
Although I could not shake the feeling that by playing on a touch screen I wasn’t experiencing the game at its best, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is still a terrific homage to the point and click games of the 1990’s. There is even a brilliant sequence whereby Professor Weathervane the gnome travels back in time through different gaming ages, graphics and sound getting less sophisticated until he ends up in a text only world where it all started all those years ago.