by Chris Priestman
previewed on PC
One Click, Or Two? (cntd)
Now I do not want to jump the gun here, but The Book of Unwritten Tales is managed in a way that tempts me to say that the balance is almost perfect. In each environment there is plenty to click on, but once you have heard the dialogue or performed the action associated with that item, the game makes the now redundant object unclickable. It simply blends in with the rest of the beautiful hand drawn artwork. This means that you can find out what you have left to work with in each screen by simply scanning your mouse over the screen. This also prevents dialogue from repeating itself, especially when characters have several dialogue options. The best example of this is when I found a forgetful mummy in his sarcophagus; a most memorable part of the game. Every time I opened the casket he would ask for Mortimer - what he called his gremlin master. Rather than repeat the same phrases over and over again, the mummy would ask a new question about Mortimer and his disappearance. It was tempting to just keep bothering the Mummy just to see how long it would be before he repeated himself.
This system does supply the game with a lot of flow, while always feeling challenging. Unfortunately, the game does not allow you to combine items in your inventory that do not have a desired result, meaning there are no silly remarks accompanying the desperate player trying every combination of items to see if something will happen. Aside from that very minor issue, the only real criticism I have of the game’s mechanics is that it does not utilize both of the mouse buttons very well. It is pretty much the standard in point-and-clickers, with the right click for looking at an item and the left click interacting. Here we have both the buttons doing the same action initially. This means that you have to click on an item once to look and describe it, and then click on it again to pick it up or whatever. As much as I enjoyed the little stories told on the first click, having to click a second time did catch me out a few times. It does seem like the reason for this is so that the player is forced to hear all of the dialogue, which really is not a bad thing as I have said, but it is an oddity for a game of this genre.
A Geek’s Paradise
With that minor criticism out of the way, all I have left for the game is praise. The pedantic may pick at the sub-par CGI during cutscenes, and the character animations are noticeably mechanical at times. But those gripes are easily overlooked due to the colorful hand-drawn backgrounds, the keen humor noticeable throughout the entire game and the crazy characters waiting to be met. There truly is something for everyone in The Book of Unwritten Tales, especially if you are into geek culture. Traditional fantasy is combined with steampunk and passed off as advanced dwarven technology. The variation in styles and environments really appeases all types and will incite a desperate need to explore each nook and cranny.
Amongst the references in the game are Indiana Jones, Gremlins, Harry Potter, Apocalypse Now and many more. It’s a geek’s paradise in there! Need more proof? Perhaps the most memorable moment in the preview copy was when Wilbur strolled into a tavern. Inside were two middle-aged men playing on a ‘role-playing machine’. Prepare for a bashing, WoW players! Progression required me to stop them playing though, and the way I did that had them shouting out “LAG!” and writing complaints in. As out of place as this may seem in a traditional fantasy setting, the game’s tone and comic sheen allows for bizarre moments like this. On numerous occasions the fourth wall is broken and the player is addressed directly - something it does nearly as well as Monkey Island has always managed to.
Bizarre Comedy At Its Best
As I found it very hard to stop playing and was absolutely gutted when my preview copy came to an end, it is imperative for me to say that The Book of Unwritten Tales shines as bright as the best in its genre. The hilarious and colorful characters are really engaging and give way to plenty of laugh out loud moments. Considering I only played the first two of five chapters and it took me seven hours, there is plenty of content and almost every minute something noteworthy will occur. This could be staring in amazement at the world’s fattest hamster, impressing your mage teacher by turning a rabbit into a sheep hybrid, or cheating at orc arm wrestling by using a strength elixir.
It’s bizarre comedy at its best! Luckily, the rest of the game barely puts a foot out of place either. Moments when you have to shrink yourself over and over again are managed easily as the game skips past the tedious shrinking process, and an insta-travel map is provided when the available locations to explore take some time to walk between. To be honest I have not played a game quite as on par as Broken Sword or Monkey Island for years, but this pretty much is, and that is saying something.