The Book of Unwritten Tales 2: review

  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: 20th February 2015
  • Publisher: Nordic Games
  • Developer: KING Art  Games
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://www.kingart-games.de/bout2/
  • Game code provided by the publisher

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 was Kickstarted, and they sure have put their money where their mouth is. It’s better than the previous two titles (first game and prequel) in almost every way. It’s incredibly sharp looking, we would say better written in terms of dialogue and humour, and overall, the puzzles are quite good.

The game begins with a quick recap on the events that transpired in the first game, before skydiving into a life or death situation for the (now bearded) Captain Nate Bonnett. Strangely enough, after this initial sequence – which doesn’t quite seem to add up with the story after you’ve seen what happens before and after – it’s only then that you get a tutorial with the basics of movement, interaction etc.

It follows a similar structure to the first game where you play a section with one character, before it switches to another just after a major plot point. Eventually you’ll spend time switching between multiple characters; but you’ll have many a chapter spent reacquainting yourself with Princess Ivo, Wilbur Weathervane, Nate and Critter in a myriad of both new and old locations.

The plot is largely entertaining, though the overarching plot isn’t quite as interesting as the chapter by chapter plots for each character. The dialogue and jokes – subjective as it may be – are vastly better than the previous two instalments. Something that can be said though is that the humour does seem to be at its best when it takes a visual medium. It does still have many pop-culture references throughout and, while some are very on the nose, they aren’t overused.

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is quite a hefty game in terms of how long you spend (and hopefully enjoy) with it, which makes how open the ending is a little disappointing. It ends in a more satisfying way than the slightly abrupt way the first game closes; but it has a lot of loose ends that you kind of expected to have resolved before the end of the game.

As an adventure game, the “logic” puzzles use is fairly reasonable; your choices for interactivity are whittled down through removing interactables and not allowing you to trade items between characters that the recipient would not/could not use. Both help remove the strain of the age-old point and click genre’s “try every possibility” to progress which would have been made worse by the multiple characters the game has.

There wasn’t anything in particular that caused annoyance other than two puzzles. One involved using a machine by operating it with a sequence of events that didn’t have any clear indication of when repeated steps were additive to the sequence rather than resetting it. The other seemed to be a very specific order of looking at certain objects before you could start the next puzzle.

Aside from those issues there wasn’t anything to complain about with regards to the difficulty; objects are – thankfully – easy to spot due to a hotkey for showing all hotspots. It’s a small feature that’s oft excluded to make things “more difficult” but in reality, lacking it only serves to add ‘hidden object game’ to the genre description.

Unlike Critter Chronicles, which had a hard mode that added extra steps to puzzles to make it harder, what’s given here is a few optional extra quests that give “outfits” as rewards. It’s mostly hats which may or may not improve the tone of the situation the characters find themselves in. There are quite a few of them though so you have a fair amount of optional content.

The voice acting is almost completely great across the board and the problems we have with it don’t lie with the performances given. Firstly, the lip sync isn’t really that great but isn’t jarring. A small issue is that the child of a character with a thick Brummie accent is American – which feels a little weird. Neither of those are much of a problem; but what we can only hope is a terrible oversight is the money-grabbing, tax avoiding merchant has what could commonly be thought of as a Jewish accent – especially when combined with the merchant’s visual design, which is reminiscent of Fagin. Considering much of the voice acting has so much warmth behind it, we can hope it’s foolish casting/direction, which potentially looks even worse in this instance through King Art Games being a German developer. However both the casting and the VO were done by OMUK, which is a London based studio. It does muddy what is an otherwise warm and light-hearted game, but doesn’t ruin the rest of the experience.

Marred only by its dubious choice of accent for the greedy merchant, it is an otherwise brilliant addition to the series. The opportunity that funding through Kickstarter has afforded them has been put to good use and it’s easy to recommend to any fan of the series or adventure games in general. It isn’t made to be overly difficult, so those wanting to indulge in a humorous fantasy setting shouldn’t get bogged down often by the puzzles. It’s obvious that they want to make another game in the series and hopefully that will live up to the new bar they’ve set here.

critical score 8

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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