I think it’s impossible to talk about tunic without thinking about it zelda. Every trailer, every image, every exposure to this game wastes “Zeldero” dyes on all four sides. But, you know what? The adventure of this little fox has only Link’s adventure that paints its surface. The title developed by Risky it’s familiar and distinctive, it’s endearing and surprisingly challenging. It’s an odyssey that has totally captivated me for the past few weeks.
For those who don’t know him, he first appeared at E3 2017. Its development started with a single person who managed to catch the attention of Xbox and Finji to grasp his idea. An idea that appeals above all to the nostalgia of those who are already starting to comb gray hair, because if Tunic wants something, it aims to take us back to the time of instruction manuals, to the feeling of discovery of those games that we have dosed and when what Our biggest concerns were passing an exam or waking up early at the weekend to have breakfast and watch the cartoons that were shown on TV.
Let’s get things straight. This is an adventure that takes certain nuances from Zelda, especially from the original NES, adds the usual ins and outs of Metroidvania, and wraps it up with the spice of an a Dark Souls. You have to excuse this last hint, but it’s the best way to express the difficulty that some of its bosses can present and, moreover, it’s something that the author of the game has recognized himself. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have the annoying spikes in difficulty that are typical of FromSoftware, even remotely.
Far from having a “dungeon” structure, Tunic throws you into a vast world, which in turn is the biggest puzzle in the game. Forget puzzles, you’ll rack your brains looking for the corners to advance through, consulting a map we’d appreciate if it were bigger, going through scenarios until you see a passageway that eluded you is, or discover a mechanic who was always there, but you hadn’t noticed because there was nothing to indicate it.
In your adventures as a fox hero you have a very simple combat system, with an aiming scheme necessary to focus the punches you throw and another with stamina and magic that forces you to control the times in which you roll dice and use magic objects. To this we must add that as you progress you will receive objects that can be assigned to keys to have new skills such as: Such as a hook that attracts enemies, a stick that fires fireballs, and many other things. You can also improve your stats by obtaining certain items and making them as offerings to statues that act as control points. And if you die you lose money needed to buy items, although you can get it back by touching your soul where you died.
Yes, this, combined with the presence of certain collectibles and a vast world with different sections and landscapes, doesn’t seem to go beyond what’s common in the games I’ve previously cited as references. So what does Tunic have that makes it really special? I could tell you that the fact that the instruction manual is a collector’s item that you complete by finding scattered pages is a good indication, but I’d only scratch the surface of its unique character.
If you’re new to video games, it’s harder to understand their language. Almost everything smells new and you have to stop to observe, hit many walls, experiment, start to understand the logic that defines it and most importantly search for information or rely on the manuals, which are already pretty outdated . Over the years, this language becomes easier to read, you pick up on smells that are familiar to you, it costs you less to recognize patterns, mechanisms, and even design techniques. It takes less time to take control.
What’s really interesting about Tunic isn’t that it’s a pretty looking dungeon crawler, it’s that it is you hardly understand anything from the first minute what happens. Seeing this cute fox wake up on a beach without knowing where to go, with some signs written in a (seemingly) incomprehensible language is the first sign of this path of confusion that builds his adventure . Little by little, you understand that beneath that enchanting vibe, there is something that doesn’t add up like you thought.
His puzzles actually unfold in different layers. The superficial are those necessary to progress in a plot that is barely understood until the end, but this world hides much, much more, beginning with an instruction manual whose real meaning goes further than one can imagine. Its true heart lies in those hidden puzzles and mechanics that always start with an “Aaaaahh!” I hadn’t accidentally let go of a video game in a long time. Those moments that occur when you start reading Tunic and not just looking at it.
I could also say that Dicey cheated a bit to confuse the player, but I find it hard to argue against him when his premise forces him to think outside the box. It’s difficult to follow the process he’s weaved, but little by little his pieces fall into place, his language begins to emerge and is there at the precise moment you truly connect with him.
Oh, if only I had stopped sooner to try and understand what a cross can mean…
It’s also important to understand that Tunic’s true offering can be original and charmingly nostalgic, but It’s a double-edged sword. Navigating a world where everything seems to be one big mystery and where the clues are so cryptic can be too twisted for many. There are those who associate with him for his aura, his beautiful artistic direction, his simple combat or his subtle music (the nuances of Chrono Trigger in Song of the First Forest are undeniable) and at the same time hate how he refuses to be simple to give hints. . And it’s totally logical.
It looks like a Souls-tinged Zelda at first, but every hour of play is another mile away from either franchise. In the end, Tunic is a game that, despite having obvious roots, knows how to build an experience with its own identity that breaks the fourth wall, allowing you to delve even deeper into this mysterious world it built. I’ll admit, I still have a hard time understanding his story and still have mysteries to solve, but I realize that It’s the best I’ve played this year.