Cute, challenging, and mysterious, Tunic is a beautifully-crafted isometric action-adventure that was well worth the six-year wait.
Taking a trip back in time, E3 2018’s Microsoft slot was a showcase filled with heavy-hitting triple-A titles including Halo Infinite, Sekiro, and Cyberpunk 2077, but for me, one game stood out from the crowd, and that was Tunic.
Although the reveal trailer was relatively short, Tunic’s beautifully simple art style, enchanting music, and solid combat had me gripped and patiently waiting for a release date.
Four years later and players are finally going to be able to take control of the cute fox and explore Tunic’s magical yet punishing world.
With secrets around every corner and clues hidden between the lines, this is an adventure that’s definitely worth jumping into if you’re not afraid of a challenge.
Tunic: Key details
- Price: £24.99/$29.99
- Developer: Finji
- Release Date: March 15, 2022
- Platforms: PlayStation / Xbox / PC
Lost in a beautiful and mysterious world
Waking up as our furry protagonist on a beach in an unknown land, Tunic thrusts you into a mesmerizing world that’s overflowing with charm and character. Whether it’s cascading waterfalls, an enchanting forest, or even a futuristic underground lair, you’ll never get tired of your surroundings as every path has a purpose.
As the mysterious continent uses an unknown language made up of glyphs, the game’s beauty lends to its visual storytelling and makes all of the areas memorable. The occasional but clever changes in camera angle also ensure you always get an impressive view of the scenery and often remind you that you’re a small fox in a huge world, brimming with danger.
These environments are also enhanced by the incredible music and sound effects that make every action in Tunic feel impactful. From sword swings to opening a huge door to a new location, a lot of effort has been put into making satisfying animations and sounds for the player.
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All of these factors come together to create an intriguing world that’s begging to be explored, but what secrets are hiding behind the curtain?
Secrets and discoveries around every corner
Unlike a lot of action adventures, Tunic doesn’t hold your hand or dictate where you have to go next. Instead, you are encouraged to explore your surroundings and organically discover items that will aid you during your adventure. As chests are often hidden out of sight or placed in areas that at first seem unreachable, those with a keen eye and a true sense of adventure will always be rewarded for their efforts.
Despite granting you a massive amount of freedom, your direction and objective will be guided by an instruction manual that can be accessed at any point in the game. Throughout your adventure, you’ll collect pages of this cryptic manual that will help you discover new secrets and progress Tunic’s story. However, as the booklet is written in glyphs and pictures, it’s up to you to search the pages for clues and identify where you’ll need to head next.
Unless you turn to the internet for help, there will almost certainly be moments in Tunic where you’re slightly confused about where you need to go next. To solve this, you have to turn to the manual and search for hints that aren’t always obvious. For some people, this will cause a lot of frustration and result in them losing interest, but for others (myself included), it added to the experience of being lost in a mysterious world and made it even more satisfying when I finally found the clue I was looking for.
When you finally find an upgrade or core item in Tunic, it feels like a significant discovery as it unlocks new possibilities. Whether it’s the grapple for accessing new areas, the staff for ranged combat or even a page of the manual that offers more secrets, the exciting feeling that comes with every new treasure never seems to disappear in Tunic.
Challenging combat that’ll put you to the test
At a glance, Tunic’s world appears charming and relatively tame, but don’t be fooled, or you’re guaranteed to rack up a lot of deaths during your adventure. With a dodge-roll combat system that also gives you the ability to block with your trusty shield, encounters with enemies are always challenging as perfect timing is essential to avoid taking damage. Not only that, these actions are limited by a stamina bar which is quickly drained if you’re not executing your movements correctly.
A wide variety of enemy types with different mechanics make sticking to one style of combat inefficient. This forces you to rethink your strategy and bind different weapons to your hotbar so you can deal with anything that stands in your way. An example of this would be the staff for dealing with flying targets and the Magic Dagger for freezing opponents when you need a moment to recover.
Boss fights are another integral part of Tunic and you’ll need to defeat a number of them to complete the game. These challenging encounters each have different phases and a variety of moves that you’ll have to learn. However, in the lead-up to these battles, you’ll be collecting coins and specific items that can be sacrificed at alters across the world to upgrade your stats. This means that if a boss is too difficult at first, it may be worth exploring more of the world and working on upgrades, then revisiting the challenge when you’re stronger.
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Similar to bonfires in Dark Souls, altars also act as your Respawn points. This system makes death meaningful in Tunic, as getting taken down sets you back on your adventure, but not enough so that it feels unfair or overly punishing.
At a glance appearing as a polished and beautiful isometric Zelda-like starring a cute fox, Tunic offers so much more under the surface and is a must-play for fans of the genre.
With a perfect balance of exploration, engaging combat, and of course, hidden secrets, Fiji and Andrew Shouldice have crafted an adventure that’s well worth embarking on, and it’s one that you’ll likely come back to revisit time and time again.