Release Date: Febuary 5th, 2019 (Nintendo Switch)
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: King Art Games
ESRB: Teen (Fantasy Violence, Language, Mild Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco)
What do elves, mages, a genie, and bees have to do with each other? An unwritten tale. Now, the bees are just a funny nod to my over obsession with Animal Crossing, as I cannot help but think about shaking a tree and avoiding a bees nest. All the proof you may need that I have logged WAY too many hours repaying Tom Nook for my house…but alas, that is not this game! The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 was a quirky point and click game that was released back in 2015 before releasing on the Nintendo Switch recently. Usually I am more of an RPG style player…or a Pokémon player. I am a sucker for anything Nintendo, if I am honest; however, I found myself initially drawn to the art style of the game as it had a Legend of Zelda meets Disney feel to me. I was also intrigued by the point and click style, as I do not often play these kind of games.
At the beginning of the game, the player will find themselves falling out of the sky with a sassy yet nervous genie trying to help them. I had not played the first one, so I had no clue what was going on, so I had the distinct pleasure of doing the coldest cold playthrough ever…at least for a little while. If the player has not played the original, I recommend it, as it fills in a bit of missing information. Once the player finishes falling to what they think is their demise, the game begins the tutorial. Most normal people, myself included, skip the tutorial…unfortunately, this is not a skippable tutorial. Afterwards, an elf princess named Ivo is introduced and it is quickly learned that she often finds herself locked in her room by her mother, who wants to marry her off. While playing as her, the player will get to do what any other rebellious centuries old elven teen would do: make potions, help a bonsai tree, and…be pregnant?! I will not spoil much of her plot, or any other plots, but this game does take quite a few turns.
There are four main characters to play as: the aforementioned Ivo, Wilbur the gnome mage, Critter a furry alien…and Nate, the human you started out with. Each character has their own story that is integral to the plot, even if it does not seem to make sense at first. I am a big stickler for game mechanics, so without going into more detail than I should about the plot, I would like to point out a few things I enjoyed and things I did not. As mentioned, I absolutely adored the art style. I will probably watch some playthroughs of the game just to watch it unfold as a story rather than a game. The humor was just on point, with nothing ever seeming too forced or irrelevant, and I found myself wanting to interact with characters and objects just to see how characters would respond to different dialogues and actions. I also enjoyed the subtle nods to other games. In the first section of the game alone, there are dozens of nods to different games and films. The first one that jumped out at me is an unmistakable nod to Monsters Inc. You can find a monster that looks almost identical to the top scarer, Sully. In the same area of the game, the player can also see nods to Minecraft, Lord of the Rings, and a few other games. I enjoy when developers integrate inspirations and interests into a game, especially when it is tastefully done like this game.
But unfortunately, there is always a little bad even with a good game. My initial roadblock with this game came with the actual point and click style. I had to do a little background research, but this game debuted on Steam, which makes sense for the mechanics. This style is wonderful on a PC but I played on the Switch and the motion left a lot to be desired. This was a big miss for me, as it made parts of the game frustrating. Every action is dependent on what you make the character do, which means that the player needs to be able to interact with every interactive item possible for the best possible gameplay. The joystick combination for movement made this hard at times on the Switch as the player cannot always seem to position the character just right every time. I also found myself a tad peeved at the story flow, a lot of it seemed very slow and almost as if the character was stuck.
With the game being so dependent on the player interacting with everything, I would surmise this is more of a Switch issue than an actual gameplay issue for PC players. The game is also a little odd to figure out if the player has not played the original. Sometimes a player can play a sequel with no context and be able to enjoy it, but I think this is a game better played in sequence. I also felt as if some of the quests were a bit tired and unnecessary. Although I did notice that items and skills you pick up along the way seem to tie in at just the right moment, I felt like getting there was a never ending journey at times. My final complaint is the parts of the game with Wilbur seemed a bit boring and almost like they could have been added into different characters stories instead of making him his own playable story.
So with all of that said (errr written?), where does this game ultimately land? Well if the player is a fan of fantasy and point and click games, this is the game for them! I would suggest getting it on Steam for better playability, although it does come on every major platform so anyone can play regardless. I think I will be going back and getting the first game and playing through both as a series myself honestly. As for Switch playability, well, it left a lot to be desired. With no real fine tuning for the touch or joy con, the gameplay itself can be tedious with having to position the character just right in order to talk to another character, collect items, or view surroundings. This really detracted from the fun, as it can get a bit overwhelming at times when there are enemies to beat, items to collect, characters to talk to, and buildings to climb. The game does translate well from handheld to console with no real lagging issue or lack of quality, which still makes it a very aesthetically pleasing game. Overall, once the player adjusts to the point and click compatibility issue, I still highly recommend picking up a copy for the Switch, especially if you are looking for a fun, comedic break from your regularly scheduled gaming. (Tuesday Addams; Gaming Staff Writer)
Review copy provided by THQ Nordic.