The Book of Unwritten Tales

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The Book of Unwritten Tales review
Chris Priestman

Review

A tale to be cherished and never forgotten

One Step Forwards, One Step Back


Being the breed of game that it is, The Book of Unwritten Tales should not be graded by the strength of its typical fantasy plot, or even its gameplay that may leave some vacillating (more on that later). Instead, the game should and hopefully will be remembered for how it colours in between the lines; populating its scenery with eccentric characters and delightfully odd scenarios for the player to experience. This is a game that treats its players to a rarely seen convention in games - farce. Its execution is remarkable and makes nearly every bizarre situation unfold in a memorable way. The characters are key to this comedic setup, and each one has a unique buffoonery to add. More often than not it is the incongruity of the character that provides the hilarity. The skeletal figure of Death with his scythe is contradicted by his pink bunny slippers, an ogre reads a book and speaks politely, and a noble paladin prefers a metrosexual lifestyle and hides pink pom-poms amidst his possessions.

It is a shame that with the exuberance of these illustrious characters and locales, the gameplay forces the player to overstay their welcome. The Book of Unwritten Tales may induce a lamentation of the point-and-click adventure as a whole, but it also brings up some of the long forgotten issues of the genre, especially in its latter stages. Mostly, these are classic mistakes such as not making an essential item stand out enough from the scenery due to a shared colour tone or generally being too small to spot. While inherent to the genre, the repetition of the back-and-forth motions cause the game's areas to lose their charm with every extra minute spent searching them. This inevitable frustration is not helped by the necessity to click twice on an object; once to look at it and for the character to describe it, and then unusually a second time to pick it up. The result is a game that may force players to resort to checking a guide, which some label as cheating and comes with a disgrace by itself. For a game that is so player-friendly, these small design errors go a long way to contradict the otherwise smooth experience. The most pertinent example being a puzzle that requires pressing a button to solve, but the player is not told this, nor does the mouse illustrate any possible interaction with the well-integrated wall marking when hovering over it. As a whole, though, the gameplay caters for progression at a decent pace and a replay will certainly be enticing to absorb the humorous journey without the grinding of the first run-through.

Close To The Heart


When all is said and done, The Book of Unwritten Tales excels by providing some of the most memorable and colourful characters and scenarios in a long time. No doubt, the game has its ups and downs, but the 16-hour journey will leave players with a satisfied grin. Admittedly its ending is somewhat disappointing due to its affliction with sequel-mongering rather than providing a decent conclusion, but the chapter before makes up for it. Especially if the narrative dynamics as seen at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was to your liking.

But above all, what makes The Book of Unwritten Tales simply outstanding is its immaculate humour, and that is coming from a born-and-bred Englishman. It is well-known that due to the less flexible grammar of the German language, translating humour into the English language is far from an easy task, and vice versa. This results in a rather different comedic etiquette between Germany and English speaking countries. The task assigned to King Art Games - to translate a humour driven German game into English - was undeniably intimidating, but they have made a remarkable effort and should be more widely recognised for this. They have gone beyond what was required with the keen comedy writing and the excellent delivery from the voice-over cast. One joke even remarks on the pointlessness of a conversation as probably being down to a localisation bug - it's a genius post-script moment. This is one for those looking for the quirky and mad tones of point-and-click adventures at their peak. There are some small discrepancies but they do not damage such a memorable experience overall.

For more information about and to purchase The Book of Unwritten Tales, go to unwrittentales.com

8.7

fun score

Pros

Lashings of humor and a most memorable return from a genre long thought to be dying, beautiful backdrops, outstanding farcical moments

Cons

Some minor issues with the gameplay make the experience drag at times, animations are far from perfect