by Marjolein Verheij
previewed on PC
Entering King Art Games’ Gamescom booth, we were greeted by a big pink fluffy creature at the door and colourful posters on the walls. The pink creature was, of course, Critter from The Book of Unwritten Tales, one very successful point-and-click adventure released back in 2011.
King Art Games are well on their way to make The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 even bigger, better and prettier than its predecessor. The game once again takes place in the fantasy world of Aventásia. Many of the characters from the original game are back for the sequel: Wilbur Weathervane the gnome mage, Nathaniel Bonnet the adventurer, Ivodora Eleonora Clarissa the elf princess and the lovable pink fluffball Critter. You play them either alternately or simultaneously.
It’s the genie’s fault
The demonstration begins with Nate falling, falling from great height together with debris of what looked to have been a flying ship. As our distress about Nate’s predicament rises, Creative Director Jan Theysen seems unfazed as he shares some of the game’s impressive stats, such as having 25 hours of gameplay and dialogue spanning a whooping 150.000 words. Behind him, Nate manages to climb from one piece of debris to another, which then turns in the air almost flinging him off again, but finally ends up on the mast where he grabs hold of an oil lamp and rubs it. The action produces a genie, who is then blamed for the mess.
The game switched to a scene that shows princess Ivo being unable to leave her room as her bird, Tchiep Cheep, simply doesn’t let her. Using items in her room and on her balcony, she makes smart use of her feathered friend’s love of seeds and vanity by luring the bird away from the mirror with sunflower seeds and then relocating it a place where it could be captured inside a metal ball. I swear the bird was not yellow. With the bird now safely locked away, she can finally climb off her balcony and into the garden.
There we meet the gardener, a bonsai-sized Ent. The game is rife with this sort of humour and pop-culture jokes and Easter Eggs to other fantasy worlds are everywhere. Most of these are objects just waiting to be discovered, like the 3 eggs from Game of Thrones, a rams head above the door as a wink to World of Worldcraft or a rack with swords that included Bilbo’s sword Sting. For people who don’t recognise these items, no fun is lost, but die-hard fantasy fans are bound to get an extra chuckle or two in most of the game’s locations.
If the Ent gardener struck us as odd, Ivo’s father turned out to be even weirder, looking every bit the stoned hippie king. Being a wizard of sorts, he enchants a handful of seeds, which Ivo takes back to her room and feeds to the bird which goes haywire as a result but ends up immensely strong. It flies off with a huge pot of gold, only to return with an even bigger crate. As it cracks open, a Hippogriff appears! Or... more of a flying pink hippo. You see, a nasty plague has hit Aventásia, and it changes ferocious beasts such as Hippogriffs into My Little Ponies or other cutesy creatures. And guess what? You are to stop this plague before the whole world turns pink.
Every scene in The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is rendered in 3D, but in such a way that you still get that gorgeous “hand drawn” kind of feel. One of the many advantages is that camera movement feels much more dynamic than in your average adventure and allows more depth and freedom in character movement as well. Some of these features were made possible through a very successful Kickstarter campaign which added another $170.000 to King Art’s war chest.
The scenes described in this preview can all be found in the first chapter of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, which is on schedule to be released to Steam’s Early Access in September. The complete set of 5 chapters will be released throughout the year, with only the 5th due out in February. That’s a long time to wait, but I will use that time to warm up my thinking cap. I have a feeling I will need it to crack all these creative puzzles.