I have been a long time Adventure game fan of such classics like the Police Quest series, Space Quest, or Monkey Island. Luckily for me, adventure games have been seeing a revival lately. Whether it’s a new game from Telltale Games, a remake of one of the Monkey Island games, or the upcoming Double Fine Adventure game I’m just happy to see any come out at all. The Book of Unwritten Tales is the newest (in America at least) to see a release and more than worthy of your attention.
The Book of Unwritten Tales is a fantasy parody adventure game for the PC by the developer King Art. The game tells the story of the gnome Wilbur Weathervane who dreams of becoming a mage. During a chance encounter with the gremlin Mortimer MacGuffin, he is suddenly thrust from his mundane job of cleaning a bar to a quest of bring a mysterious ring to the Arch mage which may provide the solution to help end an on-going war. During his travels he will meet the wood elf princess Ivo, and a treasure hunter name Nate who has a pet…thing…named Critter.
The game carries few surprises and can be very predictable, so if you’re looking for a story chock full of twists, look elsewhere. Even if there aren’t many surprises the writing is exceptional and downright clever at parts. There are a lot of joke references, with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings being the prime examples. At times it can seem like it tries too hard to be funny. Most of those jokes seem to have been done before, but they excel in the delivery. The jabs at RPG’s and World of Warcraft were especially funny. The characters can come off a little annoying to be honest, Wilbur reminds me of a child wanting to see more and more, Ivo can be sort of prim and proper, and Nate comes off like a jerk. But, by the end of the game, you’ll grow to like them because they have a charm.
The art style is fantastic. The settings have vibrant colors and are full of details. It’s as if each area is a landscape painting; it truly is a sight to see. The only problem I have with the settings is that it can be a little hard trying to find items that seem to just blend in, but this problem is remedied by pressing spacebar to see the interactive points. The citizens of the game don’t deviate much from any pre-existing look. The wood elf looks like a wood elf, and the gnome looks like a gnome. There are a few stand outs though such as death in bunny slippers, a Native American like Minotaur, and a zombie with an Elvis haircut. The character models aren’t nearly as good as the backgrounds, but they certainly are far from bad. I found that the more time you spent with each character, the more time you start to get annoyed at certain things about it. For example, I can’t get over Wilber’s smile that he constantly has on, it’s dopey looking and looks likes the Cheshire cat smile without showing any teeth. That being said I found the NPC’s to be more pleasant looking.
The soundtrack to the game is also above average. The orchestrated music plays all the time and is never overpowering. It provides exactly what it needed for a fantasy setting without resorting to being too epic for what it is. You’ll know you’re playing a fun little adventure game in a fantasy setting just by listening. The voice acting is executed almost perfectly. Dispite any of the characters short comings, I couldn’t imagine the voices being any different than what they were and I wouldn’t change a thing.
There isn’t much to say about the gameplay, after all it is a point and click adventure game. Being that the game has more than one playable character, it employs a switching mechanism that is sort of a mix between The Lost Vikings and Maniac Mansion with each playable character serving a purpose in some puzzles. The puzzles all seem to make sense and never seem to be over complicated for the sake of extending gameplay. As a result of that it is a rather easy game with no way to fail. There are a few welcome mini-games that help break up the point and click gameplay with my favorite being mixing a potion.
There are some mind-boggling gameplay decisions though. There is no changing what kind of action you want to do like in other adventure games. If you want to interact with an item, you first have to look at the item, and then click it again to finally interact with it. I know it’s a rope, that’s why I clicked it to pick it up! The game lets you skip through dialogue with a click of a button, but most animations need to finish no matter how big or small they are. The only time skipping works for animation is transferring from one setting to another or switching characters. The game has instances where an event won’t trigger unless you try and fail to do some random task first, or talk to a certain character first. And for those who are impatient (like me) there is no speed option. Since the characters walk rather slow it would’ve been nice to adjust the movement speed.
I’ll be completely honest, I hated the first few hours of the game. I felt like it tried too hard to be like Monkey Island and the characters (especially that damn gnome with that smile) aggravated me. But as I kept going I felt that I was initially too harsh on it. In fact, by the end I actually liked it! So if you’re an adventure game fan or just looking for a great game with a fun story, be sure to buy The Book of Unwritten Tales on Steam or gog.com
Oprainfall’s Review System:
5 Stars- A Must Own Game. Games don’t get much better than this. We recommend you buy it if you can.
4 Stars- A Great Game. It’s not a “must own” game, but it’s close. If you like the genre, you should like this game.
3 Stars- A Good Game. This game may have some flaws, but is enjoyable. Give it a try, you might like it.
2 Stars- A Poor Game. There is something off about this game. Fans of the series or genre might like it.
1 Star- A Bad Game. There are obvious flaws that keep the game from being enjoyable. We cannot recommend this game.