Test – Tunic: A Zelda-like more demanding than it seems

The project has been awaited for several years by fans of independent games, Tunic is a Zelda-like with a particularly charming graphic style. But this is not its only quality since the title is very convincing in many other aspects.

Tunic lands on Xbox consoles and PC several years after its announcement. If he was still helped by different artists and by the publisher Finji, the title was mainly designed by Andrew Shouldice, an independent Canadian developer who worked before that in the studio Silverback Productions. This one launched several years ago in the development of a game all by itself, a very beautiful story since the result turns out to be of very good quality.

The title is obviously inspired by The Legend of Zelda, but not only.

Tunic tells the adventures of a small anthropomorphic fox who discovers a new world which he is going to explore. He will then have to discover different places steeped in history and walk in the footsteps of a hero who fought evil in the past. The scenario of Tunic is particularly light and difficult to understand at first sight. Details about the universe and information are given to us throughout the game, our quest will mainly take us to different places in search of three mysterious artifacts. The scenario is really only a pretext for the adventure.

Tunic is an action-adventure game played with an isometric camera. The look of our character and the general look of the game are obviously reminiscent of certain episodes of The Legend of Zelda, Tunic also offers a mixture of action and reflection. Our character can handle different weapons, roll, use magic and objects, we quickly get a shield to defend ourselves and the gameplay is also based on an endurance gauge that makes us very vulnerable when it is empty. The title actually offers mechanics that bring it closer to Souls-like. Without reaching the difficulty of a From Software game, Tunic still offers a bit of a challenge, and our death will leave a ghost that holds some of our money that we have to go and recover. Some enemies and bosses require a bit of patience and perseverance. The gameplay is very pleasant, the fights are fluid even if the camera can sometimes mislead us because of the perspective.

The fights can sometimes be tough.

One of the real strengths of the title lies in its explorable world which, if it seems compartmentalized at first glance, offers more freedom than it seems. Tunic offers a particularly well thought out level design. The world is divided into large environments that lead to a whole bunch of smaller areas. There are many chests allowing you to collect objects, fragments of potions to heal yourself, passive effects to equip… There are also objects which, in exchange for money, can be used as offerings to the backup statues. in order to make our character more resistant and stronger.

Tunic works a bit like a Metroid game, giving us new tools to explore places we’ve already traveled differently. With the difference that it is not often a question here of objects that allow us to do new things, but rather of knowledge of the skills of our character. It can perform a whole range of actions and the game deliberately forgets to inform us. To understand all these mechanics, you have to find pages of what looks a lot like an instruction manual, a very detailed manual with illustrations, maps and tips, an original idea and a real homage to the manuals that the games offered at a certain time. These instructions are essential to understand how Tunic works, but the majority of the texts are written in the imaginary language of the title. We actually understand many game mechanics by deduction and through our habits as players.

All this knowledge that is revealed to us throughout the game allows Tunic to have a rather free progression, letting us explore the different areas in an order that depends on our discoveries. Tunic expects players to figure out many mechanics on their own, without holding our hands and appealing to our intellect and curiosity. The game also offers many secrets and many passages hidden by perspective, which rewards a lot if you search the environments from top to bottom. This aspect of the game won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like to get lost, search every corner of the map and rack your brains to figure out what to do, Tunic offers a clever and original approach to these kinds of titles.

The instruction manual is full of details.

If we remember him during his presentations in recent years, it is obviously thanks to his charming artistic direction. The decorations are sometimes made in a “low poly” style which gives a cute side to the whole, the title manages to offer magnificent and very colorful decorations thanks to its controlled lights. The soundtrack is also very convincing, it is generally rather calm and haunting, which gives a soothing atmosphere to the title.

But despite its cute art direction and its inspiration from Nintendo classics, Tunic is not a game that is particularly accessible to everyone. If the difficulty of the fights can be ignored thanks to the “safe” or “no endurance restriction” modes found in the options, the title still requires a certain knowledge of the mechanics to which we are accustomed in video games. Tunic may not be very understandable in the hands of someone new to the genre, and may be aimed more at old-school gamers. It takes more than ten hours to get to the end of the adventure (lengthened if you really want to find all the very well hidden secrets), this one is particularly successful and will seduce anyone who sticks to its concept.

Conclusion

Tunic is a great tribute to the excellent The Legend of Zelda. If he was still helped by various artists and by the publisher Finji, the title was mainly designed by Andrew Shouldice, a young developer who signs his first production with Tunic. The focus here is not on storytelling, but on experience. We embody a small anthropomorphic fox who discovers a new world to explore. The latter is made up of several large areas where you can find a whole bunch of chests and secrets. There are also many enemies that will make the fights sometimes a little tough. Deliberately cryptic, Tunic teaches us a lot of game mechanics through pages of what looks like an instruction manual. A very original idea combined with a rather open world that lets us progress freely according to our discoveries. Tunic expects players to understand many mechanics without holding hands and appealing to their intellect and curiosity. An aspect that will not please everyone in addition to making the title not very accessible to neophytes since the understanding of certain mechanics sometimes depends on our player experience. The artistic direction is however a very great success, the game is magnificent to look at and to listen to. As long as you are sensitive to its charms, Tunic will certainly be one of your best gaming experiences.

Tunic

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