While the classic point-and-click adventure had long left the spotlight in the late 90’s, it has never really truly died. Making a sort of comeback in more recent times, the genre has proven that it appeals to a type of gamer that likes to explore and observe, instead of mindlessly shooting or brawling their way through all sorts of situations. Developers nowadays understand the appeal of this classic genre, and some even embrace the memories of the very games that inspired them and use them to their advantage. Such is the case of King Art’s The Book of Unwritten Tales, a witty and fantastical game that has previously made the rounds in Europe, but has finally made its way stateside.
The Book of Unwritten Tales is the humorous account of three unlikely heroes whose destinies cross as they attempt to save their realm Aventasia from the Army of Shadows. There’s Wilbur Weathervane the gnome, who favors magic instead of machinery; Ivo the wood elf, who rather not get involved in “mortal” drama; and Nathaniel Bonnet, the human adventurer who’s reluctant at first but soon joins the cause. Each of the protagonists go through a set of trials and tribulations as they realize that they’re meant for something bigger.
The story is usually a big deal in these adventure games, and The Book of Unwritten Tales contains a great one. Very well written, the tale is full of fantastic humor and wit, well-rounded characters that evolve and grow with the passing events, funny antagonists, and loads of off-the-wall situations that manage to inspire a chuckle or two as you go through them. The title also enjoys playing with satire, as it constantly puns, parodies or even plays with various subjects of popular culture from start to finish, which in turn echoes the days of classic Lucasarts adventure games. It’s always fun to see how this game deals with some of the popular subjects of our day, and it does a great job at that, producing all sorts of funny jokes we can relate to.
The Book of Unwritten Tales also features very good voicework, which brings to life the numerous characters found in the game. All the voices ooze quality, and they fit excellently with the characters they portray. The soundtrack is also fairly decent, with cool background tunes that invoke magically good times and keep item hunts from ever getting too tedious.
While the story is a great narration and experience, the gameplay is thankfully just as solid. The point-and-click controls are simple, quick and responsive, and a mouse is pretty much the only thing you’ll be using in the game, as players will control movement, object selection and inspection, and dialogue with just a couple of clicks. The game also features a nice unobtrusive hub, as nothing blocks the screen’s visuals until the player runs the pointer to the bottom of the screen to select items. It’s a nice touch that gives the game a simplistic, clean feel, and allows players to carefully observe every location they visit without menus or buttons blocking their way.
Puzzles are an important part of adventure games, and TBOUT has them in spades. They’re mostly of the “find x item and use it in x location” variety, but they work pretty well, as they are fun and humorous, and can be almost always logically solved. Occasionally there might be a frustrating puzzle that can only be progressed through by speaking repeatedly with certain non-playable characters until they help you along, or rely on players clicking on some random tiny spot, but it doesn’t ever make the game any less fun. By pretty much assuring you click on everything and speak to everyone, you can navigate past these parts without too much hassle.
Being an adventure game, once you get through it the first time, there isn’t much to do with the game anymore, as the experience is as straight-forward as it gets from the beginning of the game to the finishing credits. It’s pretty much the only mark against the TBOUT, but it’s no real problem as the game is fun enough to be enjoyed multiple times before getting boring.
At the end of the day, King Art’s The Book of Unwritten Tales is an excellent point-and-click adventure, full of great characters, a funny, refreshing story, and great gameplay that contains nice, challenging puzzles. If you love these type of games, and are especially fond of old-school point-and-clicks, you owe it to yourself to play this gem of a title. Do it.