Remember point-and-click adventure games? The last one I remember playing was Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo. Good times.
The Book of Unwritten Tales is a German-made point-and-clicker by KING Art. Released in Germany way back in 2009, it’s finally reached Steam for easy download in the US, just in time to usher in the newest retro gaming fad. And by all counts, it deserves to lead the charge.
GAME NAME: The Book of Unwritten Tales
DEVELOPER(S): King Art
PUBLISHER(S): Nordic Games Publishing
PLATFORM(S): PC, Mac
RELEASE DATE(S): July 31, 2012
Point-and-clickers are notoriously simple and infuriating games. You come across an obstacle—be it a character that needs an item, a door mechanism that requires items to complete the puzzle, or an item that can only be reached by some combination of other items. Once you have the required item(s) and put them in the right place, you move on to the next obstacle. Sometimes you combine items with other items. So it goes until you win.
Doesn’t sound fun? You’ve obviously never played one. To anyone who enjoys solving puzzles, point-and-clickers are a satisfying distraction. And as a bonus, the simple mechanics free up development time and cash which they can shower on the writers.
Unwritten Tales is stuffed full of charm. It’s one of those stories that’s crammed with fantasy clichés and spends most of its time making fun of itself for it. You start as a sexy elf chick saving an old gremlin from the clutches of a winey-voiced baddie and his mother, the unseen unspeakable horror. You later play as the bumbling unlikely hero gnome, followed by the womanizing smirk of a human, and eventually even taking control of the human’s bizarre creature companion, which looks an awful lot like a Muppet. The four of you are brought together by fate to retrieve a powerful artifact from a temple before it falls into the hands of the evil dudes. Also there’s some war going on to explain why every town is virtually empty.
If you like movie references, this game is for you. Unwritten Tales references Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and everything else you love, you nerd, you. Of course, this isn’t the only thing that makes this game funny. It has as much fantastic voice acting as it does hilarious writing. My favorite character was Death, who speaks like a proper gentleman. He is also rather blue because, as he loudly proclaims, no one in a cartoony adventure game dies!
As you probably already know, point-and-click adventure games pretty much all have the same annoying pitfalls. For low-budget games, it’s hard to get around forcing the player to watch the same walking animation over and over every time you want to talk to someone or look at something in the hopes that something different might happen this time. KING Art does try to help you out by letting you skip the animation when you’re going to a different part of the map. The biggest problem, however, tends to be the unusual logic that developers use when putting together the puzzles. There are a number of phrases used to describe this phenomenon, including “moon logic” and “drug abuse.”
The developers of Unwritten Tales appear to be going straight, however. The only times I ended up tearing my hair out over a puzzle, it was my own fault. Except one time when I was missing a tiny scrap of clothing sticking out of an object that was almost the exact same color. But generally, few problems. Any clues you might need in order to figure out which items need to go where or be attached to what can be found by speaking to characters or just using your brain. The only complaint about the gameplay I can muster up is that the first half of the game is maybe too easy.
There are couple glitches to complain about. There’s one little minigame you get to play where you mix up a potion by adding ingredients and stirring with the cursor. I had to do it about ten times because the game was not entirely specific on what constitutes a full cursor circle. Also, the game is nice enough to let you skip through dialogue. Handy for impatient people like me who turn on the subtitles so that I can read rather than waiting for people to finish talking. Unfortunately, sometimes the game will skip the next line of dialogue, too, and you can’t always get people to repeat themselves. It’s a problem in a game that has so many great jokes.
KING Art also obviously spent a lot of time on the art. The scenery is gorgeous, the detail painstaking, the lighting effects seemingly way out of said unknown developer’s league. Watching the credits was actually enjoyable—rather than an hour-long march of text death that the end of every AAA title has become—simply because of the concept art in the background. The music on the other hand was inoffensive and forgettable. I know because I can’t remember any of it. But all I really ask in video games is for it to not be annoying.
If you’re like me, you aren’t reading this part of the review because all you needed to decide to purchase The Book of Unwritten Tales is “point-and-click adventure.” Nobody can resist the call of nostalgia. So if you ever liked one, or are wondering why so many people won’t shut up about them, pick up this one! It’s only $20, and it’s 15 hours of clicks and giggles. Generic Fantasy Land awaits!