TUNIC is one of those games where there’s more than meets the eye. It’s full of mystery and intrigue and will have you sketching out puzzle solutions until you’re swimming in random bits of paper. While it’s a single-player game, there’s more fun to be had when sharing your experience with others. So do just that, work with friends and share your discoveries and help each other unlock the secrets hidden within the game.
It’s hard to refer to TUNIC as anything but a Zelda-like so let’s just get that out of the way. It is immediately apparent that the game is heavily influenced by the Zelda series and that same level of game design is the very core of Tunic. To call TUNIC a Zelda clone, however, would be very unfair as the game goes so far beyond what a simple clone could ever hope to achieve.
Like classic Zelda games, TUNIC doesn’t offer much in the way of guidance. It’s the player’s role to explore the world and find the secrets it holds. A big part of that journey is hunting down pages to a manual that’s largely made up of an unknown language but holds many tips and hints. Think back to the pre/early internet when you’d pour over a game’s manual looking for any clue. The manual then is packed with secrets just waiting to be found. Leave no page unturned is my advice.
The world of TUNIC is also filled with enemies and bosses that may have you thinking you’ve mistakenly loaded up Elden Ring. Bosses in particular always have a pattern, learn it quick or you’ll be looking defeat dead in the eyes again and again. Thankfully, there’s an array of purchasable items and unlockable weapons to help you deal with stubborn enemies. Not to mention their uses when it comes to reaching chests you couldn’t by normal means.
A large amount of players’ time will be spent contemplating anything that looks like a pattern. The level of complexity of the puzzles in this game knows no bound. While a lot of the solutions may be simple, the time it takes to reach that point can be torturous, in a good way. It’s been some time that I have been quite literally swimming in bits of paper with random puzzle thoughts and solutions doodled everywhere. This aspect of the game is easily my favourite, the sense of achievement you feel when something clicks and you have that “aha” moment.
One of the most important aspects of the game is that players work together to unlock the secrets within this game. As part of the review process, FINJI specially prepared a Discord server exclusively for press for this very reason. The discussion and collaboration with other people working together sharing bits of information and things that have been discovered made every second playing Tunic all the more exciting. I’m sure the majority of outlets would agree we never would have made it as far as we did without the help of everyone in that Discord server. I hope players will look for ways to help one other work out solutions rather than looking up the solutions outright. You’ll only be robbing yourself of the experience!
Initial impressions of the graphics were a bit of a letdown. The starting area felt rather dull, with very little vibrancy to the world. This is very quickly turned around as you begin to explore the various areas the game has to offer. I was left in awe at some of the level design you experience further in. There’s a charm to the world. It looks like it’s a diorama made of crafting foam and you’re controlling a character moving about a physical model. Aesthetically it reminds me of a stop-motion animation short by Mikey Please called The Eagleman Stag, which is definitely worth a watch.
The soundtrack by Lifeformed is perhaps the most forgettable part of the whole experience and that’s a shame. Not because it’s bad in any way, but in that the other elements of the game take on more of a focus. In fact, the soothing melodies really help to put you at ease while you agonise over how to solve the many secrets the game has to offer.
TUNIC is perhaps the most fun I’ve had with a game in a long time. The depth within the puzzle design and the overall world has kept my brain whirring away whenever I’m not playing. The collaborative effort of working out the more difficult puzzles has been a highlight I’ll probably not experience again for a long time. This is matched wonderfully by the solid gameplay. While I can’t easily wipe my memory and start the game fresh, what a joy that would be, I can take comfort in the knowledge that TUNIC definitely holds more secrets than I’ve discovered during my time with it and that only makes me want to explore it more!
Review copy provided by ICO Partners
Reviewed on: Steam