Tunic Analysis

Seven years ago, developer Andrew “Dicey” Shouldice announced an upcoming Zelda-like isometric adventure game called Tunic. Featuring an unnamed fox hero, Tunic resembles an animated picture book and quickly caught the attention of gamers looking for a nostalgic trip back to the NES days. The Tunic has finally been released on PCs and Xbox consoles, but there are a few caveats that players may want to consider before embarking on their journey. Tunic’s simple, colorful, and attractive visual presentation will instantly draw players into the world, encouraging them to poke their heads around every corner and uncover secrets. In a recent Today Technology interview with developer Tunic, Shouldice said it’s the “sense of wonder and exploration of the unknown that I want to capture.” Mission accomplished indeed, as the game is well designed to hide passages and treasures in plain sight, with some paths almost Escher-esque in their arrangement. The tunic gradually reveals its secrets, reserving certain gameplay aspects for discovery as the game progresses. When the player thinks they are almost done, they wander off to a new area and look for more tasks to complete. Many players will be delighted and perhaps even a little proud when they find a hidden shortcut around a group of tough enemies or stumble across an almost invisible path to a cache of gems. Treasure chests, upgrades, and even entire dungeons are the rewards for observant and curious players. tunic game activate column The excellent art design extends to the game’s protagonists and antagonists, all of whom would sell well if reimagined as stuffed animals. The tunic style will appeal to almost everyone, young or old, with its cutesy and simplistic design, vibrant colors, and quiet music. The game is definitely a gem for those who have the patience to continue until the end, but some may be surprised by how difficult the game is. Players should not let the game’s pleasant packaging discourage them from enjoying it, as it hides a world that is sometimes unforgiving. It won’t take long for players to realize that Tunic is like Souls disguised as a colorful storybook, complete with parrying, stamina, and bonfires. The game can be very difficult, especially in the beginning when the player is learning the logic and mechanics of Tunic. As the nameless fox opponent upgrades his defense, attack, and health, the game can start to lean more towards the delightfully difficult. The main battles are roughly on par with Dark Souls when it comes to difficulty, and defeat is perhaps even more draining because it’s inevitable. Unlike the Souls games, success in Tunic sometimes relies on luck as much as it does skill. The difficulty of this game doesn’t always present a challenge that can be overcome with practice, skill, or leveling up. Sometimes it feels like struggling without a goal, only providing a sense of comfort instead of achieving afterwards. tunic game inventory This will make the game a test of determination for some players, detracting from what could be a very fun and magical experience. It’s possible to get stuck within five minutes of starting, and the first feeling some players will associate with Tunic is frustration and loss. The many hidden paths that make the game so engaging to explore are also a hindrance. The world of Tunic can sometimes feel labyrinthine and confusing, and even locations that have been visited before can be difficult to find again. The situation is not improved by the fact that the map of an area may not be found until the player has already stumbled their way halfway through it. The Zelda-inspired indie game can theoretically be completed in around 15 hours, but it’s entirely possible to hit the 30-hour mark before the credits roll. Unlike some games that intentionally increase the difficulty, it’s not always easy or even possible to just level up and come back later. Items used to increase attack and defense are limited in each area and, if the player is having difficulty defeating enemies, the only option is to persevere or quit. A lot of time will be spent dying and fighting the same enemies over and over again, and this leads to sticking to the Tunic next. The controls can be clunky and make the game more difficult than it would otherwise be. While enemy attacks can be identified fairly quickly, that knowledge doesn’t necessarily lead to victory, and dying as a result of slow or awkward controls makes each blow that much more annoying. tunic game golden door symbols An example of questionable controls is the lock-on mechanic, which doesn’t always target the enemy closest to the player. It seems to arbitrarily lock anyone, anywhere on the screen. While the player faces a group of enemies within melee range, the lock-on system can target an enemy on an inaccessible hilltop. So the player has to manually switch targets, where they are more likely to take damage and die because they are not dealing with enemies actively attacking them. It would also be a boon if lock-on was a toggle because, at any given moment during combat, the player would have to juggle three to five buttons: lock-on, shield, attack, dodge, and target select . This is a feat that not everyone is able to do. The main element of the Tunic’s design is its simplicity and, while that’s a pleasing aesthetic, it also sometimes hurts the gameplay. One of the most puzzling aspects of the game is the plethora of items whose use is unclear. Without blind experimentation (which can lead to some funny moments, to be fair) players can run through the entire game without knowing what some of the items in their inventory are for. manual tunic game Even the game’s manual, which is unlocked in bits and pieces, doesn’t make much sense because half of it is written in stylized, cryptic script. This cryptic language is fascinating and adds to the game’s sense of mystery, but it also leads to a constant sense of confusion. For example, at the very beginning of the game, the players steal a key, but they are never told that it is a key. It doesn’t really look like one, players can’t examine it to gain some insight, and the manual page describing it doesn’t appear until later in the game. So it is possible to run aimlessly for 10 minutes with this item in the inventory, thinking about how to progress to the next area. Tunic is more than just a Zelda clone and will win over many players — those who enjoy the art style, the relentless challenge, the sense of exploration and discovery. But people picking up the game should know that this is a niche title that some players won’t have the patience to complete. Those who take the test will find it an enjoyable, if sometimes frustrating, experience that is fully commendable. The tunic is available on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Today Technology was provided with a Steam code for this review. MORE: How the Tunic Can Benefit Death’s Door Success

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