Classic-style adventuring gets a modern makeover
Back in the early 90s, the graphical point-and-click adventure was very much the norm when it came to gaming on the computer. Games like the Secret of Monkey Island offered you a safe and friendly way to play games in which you could not really lose because the game would only allow you to click on things in ways to advance the adventure. Point-and-click games were generally like computerized jigsaw puzzles where you click on an item and try to match it up with another object or action you can do onscreen. Through dialogue and events in the story, you come up with ways to solve the task at hand with the pieces around you. The more you are engaged with the story, the faster you should solve the puzzles. Other general features of good point-and-click games are lively music, visually interesting settings, a gripping detective-like interactive story, and some comical misclicking hijinks. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is a fantasy genre mash up, presented as a masterful point-and-click adventure with amazing production values. The real question to the potential buyer is not whether this game is good, but is the game play and story in The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 a good match with you?
There are several chapters to The Book of Unwritten Tales 2. In each, you play as one of the four main characters and live out their personal story line. Your first role is as Ivo, the Elven princess. She is locked away in her room while being under the watchful eye of the family parrot, Cheep-Cheep. The adventure starts as you point-and-click your way into outsmarting the bird and escaping your room. Your goals are to figure out what mysterious ailment has befuddled Ivo, and to skip town to pass on an arranged marriage. While the story itself seems original, it feels tainted as a result of the inclusion of an avalanche of references to other fantasy IPs. The game grasps the conventions of the genre to move the story along, but also to throw in twists. Each twist thrown in that is contrary to what we already know about the genre has a chance of falling flat and discrediting itself as a proper fantasy game.
The scenery is filled with references to other magical medieval games, movies, and books. This style of showing people “subtly” everything from every fantasy based work to try to tickle any and all the fancies of every player everywhere is played out. The creators have sacrificed some of the identity of the story to appeal to people who are in on their jokes. It actually hurts the game play as you play detective and filter all clues into either the “useless references” pile and “potential hints” pile. If you can deal with the intrinsic genre melding going on in The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, and enjoy subtle detective work which can seem to move at a snail’s pace, then you will enjoy this game. With that said, the game is beautiful. The character design and animation is flawless and each of the settings look straight out of the Lord of the Rings, or even the Wizard of Oz. The music is orchestrated to perfection, even though you will want to turn it down to hear the dialogue. Each of the character’s stories, if you can ignore the non-stop references, is appealing enough to keep you adventuring along. You will sometimes deal with awkward dialogue that seems to just fill in a void or throw off the mood from time to time. But the overall freshness of the characters and story keep it interesting.
From the prologue and tutorial levels of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, you will see that this game was lovingly put together. You will also find that the mechanics of this game, while considered to be outdated, were carefully and creatively considered. This was a successfully crowd-funded Kickstarter game, and it shows. The team behind this game was right to courageously risk adventuring outside their personal castles to rescue the point-and-click game genre.