Developer: KING Art
Publisher: Nordic Games
Platform: Windows, Mac, Steam
Release Date: July 31, 2012 (out now)
ESRB: T for Teen
This review is based on the Steam version of the game.
As an adventure game enthusiast, it“s always a treat for me to get my hands on an adventure title that I“ve not yet played. When I got the chance to play The Book of Unwritten Tales, I was ecstatic. It presented beautiful-looking art style and graphics, a seemingly solid story, and garnered praise everywhere I looked. I was expecting to jump into the best adventure game of this generation. Unfortunately, with those high expectations, along with some poor game mechanics and design that The Book of Unwritten Tales contained, my experience with the game was anything but.
The Book of Unwritten Tales dives into the world of medieval fantasy – elves, gnomes, gremlins, orcs, dragons, and so on. This world has been ravaged by war between the Alliance and the Army of Shadows for years now, and a gremlin archaeologist has discovered a powerful and ancient artifact that could ultimately end the war. However, the Army of Shadows has caught wind of this and is doing all that they can to get their hands on this artifact. Once the archaeologist is caught, he leaves it up to our four involuntary heroes to get a hold of this artifact before the Army of Shadows does. It“s a rather simple tale that“s slowly-paced, unfortunately, and each chapter is drawn out way longer than it should be.
The biggest gripe I have with The Book of Unwritten Tales only adds on to the slow pacing. Items that are needed to progress throughout the game can be excruciatingly difficult to spot. Countless times, I had wandered around for hours throughout every area possible because I was unable to find something. One particular item was so small and the exact same color as what was behind it that I thought it was part of it. Now, this problem is easily solvable by using the hotspot feature (spacebar). However, for those who are stubborn and refuse to use such hand-holding features (like me), it“s still quite annoying. I ultimately felt forced to use it in that one instance, and felt shame as an adventure gaming aficionado. In any case, I do feel as if this all could have been designed a lot better and that the hotspot feature shouldn“t feel like a necessity.
The puzzles, on the other hand, are mostly simplistic. None of them really popped out at me that would make me exclaim, â€œWow, this is pretty creative and genius!â€ The only times I would ever be stuck on a puzzle was due to the aforementioned problem; missing an item because I couldn“t find it.
While The Book of Unwritten Tales is comprised of such glaring problems, it“s not all bad. I actually quite love its graphics and art style. The character models are clean, crisp, and gorgeous. The backgrounds, in particular, are masterpieces. There“s so much detail in them that it“s unbelievable. And there is such a wide variety of environments and settings shown in these backgrounds – forests, pubs, mountains, insides of monsters“ stomachs, and so on – that you“ll never become bored of what you come across.
The characters of the game don“t just look visually appealing, but they“re written well, too. Wilbur is a gnome that has lived in the mountains his whole life; wishing to become a mage instead of going down the path of technology. His cluelessness about the world once he leaves his home is amusing and endearing. Ivodora is an elven princess, and while she“s dressed somewhat scantily, she“s a very strong female character and likes to take things into her own hands. She“s also very witty and sure to charm most that play The Book of Unwritten Tales. Then we have Nate: a human adventurer that is very reminiscent of Han Solo from Star Wars with his cockiness and narcissism. Our protagonists, along with every other character in the game, obviously show that KING Art put a lot of time and care into creating them.
Along with great characters, we have top-notch English voice acting and humor. I laughed a lot throughout the game (despite how infuriating it could be sometimes wandering around for ages). The Book of Unwritten Tales is also chock-full of pop culture references and nods to other adventure games such as the Monkey Island series.
One other thing that The Book of Unwritten Tales features that is worth mentioning is a system where multiple characters are controllable. It“s nothing unique and not quite as in-depth as Resonance“s system, but it“s still something not executed in adventure games often and is still fun all the same. It also adds a bit more to the game“s rather bland puzzles.
I really tried to love The Book of Unwritten Tales. As an adventure game, though, it does nothing extraordinary or new. It“s incredibly average – in both story and gameplay. However, it does offer wonderful art and character design. For adventure game enthusiasts, it“s worth a try if you have nothing else to do. The Book of Unwritten Tales seems to cater more towards newbies of the genre; those not looking for any sort of special adventure game and won“t mind using the hotspot feature to progress quickly and painlessly.
+ Great cast of characters
+ Exceptional voice acting and humor
+ Jaw-dropping, beautiful graphics and backgrounds
- Puzzles are too simple
- Story is weak and predictable
- Items are consistently difficult to find; forces you to use hotspot feature
Overall: 5.5 (out of 10)
The Book of Unwritten Tales is brought down to average level by a boring story and poor design decisions. Be wary, adventure gamers. Newbies, on the other hand, go ahead and give it a shot.