TAG24's Take: Tunic is the most charming game of the year so far
Grand Rapids, Michigan - One indie developer managed to delivered what might be the cutest game of the year while also paying artful homage to souls-like titles and Nintendo's Legend of Zelda.
Tunic is an adorable adventure game, developed by Andrew Shouldice and published by Finji.
You play as a cute little fox, a warrior-in-training, who starts with nothing but some health and stamina bars.
Soon enough, you'll be decked out in magical items, a shield, and a trusty sword. For the real hardcore players who think the game is too easy, you can also stick with your trusty, er, stick.
Tunic draws inspiration from some of the hardest souls-like titles and Nintendo classic Zelda, and invites you to figure out how to beat the beasties and bosses that will put you in the ground.
Sure, it can be frustrating to fight a boss for the fifth – or 20th – time in a row, but when you finally defeat it, that victory tastes oh so sweet.
Plus, the whole time you are exploring a charming world, solving tricky puzzles, and piecing together a mysterious story with a delightful guide that you literally piece together as you progress through the game.
Discovery can be magical
The journey in this game is quite a hook.
You're dumped in front of a staircase with no items, weapons, or context, and left to discover how the game works simply by playing.
There is a guide, but you have to pick up the pages for it as you quest around the lovingly designed levels.
This perfectly describes how playing Tunic or any other souls-like game works.
At first, imagine you have a guide with empty pages. Then, as you figure out the ins-and-outs of the game, you fill in the blanks.
The story works the same way. At first, Tunic tells you nothing apart from who you are: a little fox warrior. After that, you discover your quest, and get sucked into a mystery that spans lifetimes.
And the truly fantastic part of how Tunic was designed is that virtually everything you learn is from piecing clues, tips, hints, and your own experience together to make sense of the game.
The game truly is in a class of its own as a narrative masterpiece, and it's definitely worth playing for the storytelling alone.
Sounds better than most AAA games
One word describes how the game looks and sounds: magical.
Tunic's soundtrack was brewed up by Janice Kwon and Lifeformed, and they built a set of tracks that fit each level perfectly.
Their work turns the already brilliant-looking game into a feast for the senses. Simply standing still and taking in the game's crumbling ruins, abandoned beaches, or dark dungeons treats you to a handcrafted listening experience.
If you crank up the action, the soundtrack keeps pace, but never gets in the way of focusing on playing the game. The rest of Tunic's sound design is also amazing, and often helps you solve puzzles, find secrets, or simply better understand how to progress the story. Your foes in Tunic will also telegraph their attacks with sound effects, which you can rely on to time your own moves.
There's so much to enjoy about this game, even the hardest bosses and most confusing puzzles.
And at the end of the day, the labor of love from Tunic's creator is absolutely worth your hard-earned cash if you want a bit of a challenge, a magical world to explore, and a whole truckload of cute.
Tunic looks good, sounds fantastic, and delivers masterful storytelling. This game takes charming and cute gaming to a whole new level, too.
Cover photo: Finji/Andrew Shouldice