With the storied legacy of The Legend of Zelda franchise, it is inevitable that plenty of modern games are inspired by it, especially the strong influence of its gameplay and aesthetic design. The excellent Death’s Door is a recent example, and Andrew Shouldice and Finji’s Tunic follows in those footsteps, delivering an isometric action-adventure that is amazingly charming, surprisingly challenging, and packed with intriguing content that will entertain for hours on end.
If you are in search of games that do not require any hand-holding, and is dependent entirely on players figuring things out, forget Elden Ring and give Tunic a try. This is a hardcore game with an adorable filter, pushing players to discover things through exploration and the collection of pages that becomes your in-game manual.
Like a game manual reminiscent of those included in boxed games from the 90s, the manual in Tunic delivers charm and value that informs the rest of your time spent in this world, handwritten notes, annotations here and there, with the caveat that this is all done in a language that is uniquely Tunic, leaving just enough there for players to figure out just what the hell is going on.
Referring to the manual will help immensely throughout your time in Tunic, although you can always brave it alone. The game does not necessarily make it impossible for you to progress without some vital clues gleaned from the manual’s pages, but this is an extremely smart way to keep players engaged and interacting with an excellent design choice.
When you get your nose out of the manual, a world brimming with possibilities await, with the sheer variety of locations you can visit and revisit, each colourful and detailed, and together with our sword-wielding hero and the other creatures, this game is always pleasing to the eye.
Journeying across the overworld or diving into various dungeons, there always seems to be danger just around the corner. Tunic features a healthy roster of enemies for players to contend with, each requiring different tactics to overcome. The way the game keeps it relatively simple by giving you just the sword, as well as blocking, dashing, and dodging moves, means that strategy comes into play most of the time.
Much of the challenge in Tunic boils down to the enemies being dangerous no matter where you find yourself in the game. While the ways of fighting can be discerned with time, they can hurt you aplenty if an attack connects. Rushing and button mashing will get you nowhere, and when players take the time to learn patterns and take advantage of open windows, the combat in Tunic gets even more satisfying.
There are also certain items that can be discovered throughout the game, but with no instructions, there is always room for experimentation that could backfire spectacularly or give you the edge you need. Even when you get to the safe havens that are flame-lit shrines where you can save your game and refill on health and magic, the enemies that you have killedl before will come back to life, just like you would expect from a FromSoftware title.
All of the precious lessons learned during combat against the enemies found around you will come in handy when facing the many different bosses found in Tunic, and every fight is a memorable bout of skill and technique.
Considering the limited tools you have at hand, it truly comes down to how well you have mastered the systems in the game, and whether you are smart enough to execute a well-laid strategy. Needless to say, every victory is to be savoured.
Just like its inspiration, making progress in Tunic will also open up previously unreachable areas or items. The game does a great job at teasing you with enticing glimpses as you explore, and when the time comes to claim your prize, it is never not exciting.
There are also hints and reveals that are constantly coming your way, that is, if you are attentive enough to spot them. All in all, it contributes to making every trip made in Tunic a potentially rewarding one, whether you love the combat or is a fan of solving puzzles.
Despite Tunic’s cutesy appearance, underneath that layer of adorableness is an action-adventure that packs a punch with its solid combat, a world full of charm and intrigue, and a gameplay loop that never gets old whether you are in the first hour or the 20th. Now, if only we can get that in-game instructions manual in real life, now that would be the best treasure to reward anyone who has had the pleasure of playing Tunic.
Tunic is available on Steam for $26.00.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Challenging from start to end, Tunic goes far beyond expectations in creating an action-adventure that is charming, deep, and keeps you coming back for more every single time.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 8/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 10/10