The Book of Unwritten Tales
Developer: King Art
If you’re wondering what this game is I wouldn’t blame you. It released in Germany in 2009 and recently in 2011 over in the UK so everyone else has been missing out on one of the best point and click games to come out recently. I’m not the biggest fan of the genre, but I still make it a habit to play all the notable point & click games that come out and this is one of the few that got most things right for me.
The story opens up with McGuffin giving us a brief summary of a war that’s been ravaging the land for quite some time and how he recently found an ancient artifact that will be able to tip things in their favor. Conveniently enough one of the villains kidnaps him and you’re quickly introduced to one of the main characters, the elf Ivo. As you continue through the story you’ll meet the gnome Wilbur and the hilarious Nathaniel with his little buddy called Critter. You’ll take each character through a fantastic story while switching between and eventually being able to use multiple characters at once to solve a puzzle using their unique skills. I’ll try to keep the spoilers low and mostly mention only things from the first chapter because this game is pretty damn good and I’d hate to ruin some of the later moments. Did I mention it’s funny? Like crossing over into the self-aware territory in a good way funny?
The Book of Unwritten Tales is very much a point and click game in every sense of the word. The only surprise you’ll find in the gameplay is switching characters as I mentioned before. The puzzles aren’t very difficult, in fact they mostly feel like they’re there to give you something to do as you continue the story, but they get the job done and can be quite humorous. You’ll basically have to look around the environment for whatever you can pick up, use something you already have to change something in the environment, or combine two objects to make something you need. Most of the time what you need is pretty obvious and your character will give you various hints when you click on objects in the area. A feature that I quite like is that if you hold the space bar you’ll be able to see everything you can interact with. Sure it takes the exploration element out but it does eliminate the issue I’ve found in my P&C games where the thing you need to click on isn’t exactly super obvious so you end up clicking on everything. On the other hand this doesn’t help my slight OCD since I have to click on everything before I move on. It’s especially infuriating when some items have their interact icon disappear when you’ve exhausted all the options on that item and some don’t. It makes sense for some items since you’ll need to use them again later in a puzzle, but for others it doesn’t so I’m sitting there trying to figure out how that item would work in the puzzle I’m currently on only to realize it’s nothing.
One thing that really rubbed me the wrong way is how a few of the puzzles would seem to glitch on me for some reason. In an early puzzle you’re tasked with locating a gemstone to fit into a staff, reflect the light into the gem which would then light up the three points on a locked door. I got everything set besides the light being reflected pointing in the wrong way. I figured I had to just turn the statue holding the mirror like any reasonable person would; the problem is that this didn’t work. I clicked on that statue dozens of times, loaded an earlier save multiple times, and even walked around the entire level double checking everything to see if I forgot something. Eventually the game the gave me the option of turning the statue after sitting there clicking on it for a minute. I did nothing different that time besides clicking the statue with my right hand and checking my email with my left, I guess my email was the secret. There’s another bit a little after this where you have to crash the server room (just play the game and you’ll see) three times to get the attention of the town wizard. I had picked up a jar of bugs earlier and realized this is probably where I’m supposed to use them so I did, then I noticed I could use the saw to cut a second chair that I could use to switch places with the chair the monkey is on to cause him to fall over. The problem is that I couldn’t switch the chairs. After clicking on everything to try to find out how to make Wilbur switch the chairs I decided to look up a walkthrough. Each one I read told me I needed to first saw the chairs, go find a banana, and then toss the bugs into the computer. Apparently the puzzle needed to be done in a specific order which makes no sense since lots of these puzzles give you no indication that they need certain things done in a specific order and it makes matters worse when they autosave after each thing you do which means you have to reload an older save if you fuck up. This happens a few times with puzzles requiring specific things such as needing to click on some random item in the background or talking to a character to get some information on the puzzle even if you have the pieces to complete the puzzle. Although these happen a few times in a huge game, the moments were enough to pull me out for a good amount of time.
There’s no other way to describe the graphics other than incredibly charming; everything just reeks of charm and pure old fashioned fantasy. Everything is beautifully detailed and it’s just amazing that a smell team managed to make something this gorgeous. The voice acting is also surprisingly well done from the main characters and even to the random NPC you’ll meet for a brief moment. The game tops things off with a cheery soundtrack too. You will see a few errors in the spelling and grammar in the game, but nothing major to the point that you won’t know what they’re trying to say.
The Final Word
King Art has managed to craft a brilliant addition to the point and click genre and one of the few games to actually make me laugh out loud. It clocks in at a damn good amount of time and the game tip-toes over the line of self-awareness with a confidence you rarely see in games. Besides the hiccups I had with a few puzzles I still had a complete blast playing through this game and I hope you guys get the chance to try it out as well.
– MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good