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    dkirschner's Tunic (PC)

    [June 11, 2023 01:21:46 PM]
    This was something truly special. I was on the fence about playing it because it looked like some other good games I've played in the past year or so (Death's Door, Nobody Saves the World), but less interesting. A cuddly-looking fox dressed like Zelda? Meh. I'm not a giant Zelda or souls-like fan either, and it draws comparisons to those. I had also read that it could be a bit obtuse, that you had to interpret an instruction manual, and it sounded like it might be tedious. Boy was I wrong. This is one of the best games I've played in a long, long time. Zelda-esque (very), soulslike (light), and to my pleasant surprise, Fez-ish too.

    You do play as a fox, but you can imagine any animal you like because it doesnít matter. You like armadillos? Great, youíre an armadillo with a sword. An ancient armadillo spirit is trapped and you have to find three keys to un-trap her. You explore the map, which consists of a bunch of interconnected areas, and kill the bosses holding the keys. Exploring the map is fun, and you will constantly come upon something new. The sense of discovery in Tunic is wonderful. If you play, you should go in as blind as possible, and try not to use a walkthrough. I only got really stuck one time and caved in. It turned out that I missed a little path to where I needed to go, probably because I was being inattentive, but also maybe because I didnít walk far enough for the camera to spin and clearly reveal said path (I like to think I would have noticed itÖ). I did consult a walkthrough one other time because I was tired of inching my way through the Quarry and wanted to make sure I was headed in the right direction. During the final boss fight (very difficult!) I caved in a third time and looked up what each of the cards does. I donít think they did me many favors, but I did learn that one would have made the Quarry significantly easier. In the Quarry, by the way, you basically have to be perfect! Crystals drain your max health to 1, which means that every enemy one-shots you. Further, the crystals distort your vision. I died probably 50 times in there. I was there WAY before I should have been, and actually cleared most of it out then, and later finished it when I was so much stronger.

    Such is this game! You sometimes learn information or find a location far before you need to, and other times far later. This is the gimmick: the instructions for how to play are scattered around the world. You find pages of the instruction manual as you play. Itís brilliant. Iím not sure how easy it is to miss vital information, but I can see it happening. I was attentive to finding manual pages, secrets, and generally poking around everywhere, so I didnít miss much. In fact, at the end of the game, it said Iíd missed two pages (out of 50-something). Thorough! But even when you do get manual pages, you have to interpret them. The game is mostly presented in some fake language, so you have to study images, maps, what little English words there are, and piece together what the manual is trying to tell you. Sometimes itís pretty obvious, sometimes itís not. I can only imagine how someone who hasnít played a ton of games in their life would struggle with this. I benefitted from interpreting a lot of the manual simply because Iíve seen such manuals and played such adventure games 100 times before. But I still felt an amazing sense of discovery and ďaha!Ē when Iíd figure out what a page was trying to tell me. It might tell you how to upgrade skills, where a key is located, how to unlock a secret, and so on. If you donít spend time thinking about the manual (and paying attention to the details), youíre going to end up more lost than not. Iíve read about people not figuring out how to upgrade skills, for example, and then complaining about the combat being too hard. It sucks if they missed the manual page that explains it, but maybe they had the page and didnít make sense of it!

    I imagine that because of the interconnected nature of the areas and the way that you can find manual pages out of order, players have very different experiences with Tunic, like perhaps defeating bosses in different orders and so on (like, I wonder if I did the Librarian out of order because he was bizarrely easy). I am so impressed by Tunic and would love love love to play another adventure game just as clever and challenging. I would recommend this to anyone.
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    dkirschner's Tunic (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 2 June, 2023

    GameLog closed on: Friday 9 June, 2023

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Phenomenal. Zelda meets Dark Souls. Constant exploration, great music. Oddly chill. ----------- One of the best I've played in a long time.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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