by Chris Priestman
previewed on PC
A Very Monkey Island Affair
“Nobody can die in this game!” moans Death as he sits atop a crate, kicking his pink bunny slippers to and fro. He continues to complain about his destitute situation; finding himself in a point-and-click adventure rather than a role-playing game in which hundreds of rats are killed before even reaching level two. Confused by Death’s references to ‘the game,’ Wilbur the Gnome exits the miserable conversation that he describes as “deathly unhappy.” As soon as those words exit his lips he turns to the player and apologizes for the terrible pun and claims it will not happen again.
Moments like this epitomize my love of graphic adventure games. The Book of Unwritten Tales marks a glorious return to the root of their existence. It is a breed of game that is best described as the love child of Lord of the Rings and Monkey Island.
United With My Precious...
Released over two years ago in German, KING Art’s much heralded point-and-click adventure has made its way into English at last. The translation process has taken a while, but it has absolutely been worth the wait considering how much of the game relies on voiceovers. The actors have done a marvelous job of bringing each character to life in this fantasy story, and the translation of the humor is spot on. Without a doubt, the personalities in the game are going to be what sells it to players. When you recall Monkey Island, the first memories are always those bizarre and often hilarious moments. Much of the same can be said for The Book of Unwritten Tales. In fact, the developers seem to have made a game based around comical moments but its gameplay never feels like it is simply latched on.
The game is centered on a journey, one that we have all encountered before in Tolkien’s epic fantasy. Wilbur the Gnome answers the call to adventure when a caged Gremlin falls from the sky and orders him to take a ring to the Arch-mage. With the help of his eccentric grandfather and some homemade explosives, Wilbur begins his journey to help the good of the land fight the impending evil. To succeed, Wilbur has to rely on the help of those he meets, and appease their needs no matter how strange. He eventually seeks help from an elf called Iwo and a treasure hunter named Nate (hush yourselves fanboys). At this point in the game the player has control of all three characters and can switch between them to use their different abilities. The rest is yet to be seen.
One Click, Or Two?
When it comes to point and click adventure games there is one recurring issue that they are nearly all faulted for – the randomness of the puzzles. Telltale has tried to dodge this criticism by providing a hint system in all of its games, but it is often an exploit for players rather than a solution for the issue. The problem is that the developers need to find the balance between telling a smooth story with providing a challenging puzzle game. The majority will never get this right, with a lot of games either being too easy or forcing players to look up guides after being stuck in one area for hours of click-frustrating misery.