Point me in the right direction.
I’ve always enjoyed a good point-and-click game, ever since I cut my teeth on the genre by playing the Discworld series back in the late 1990s. That being said, the first Book of Unwritten Tales went completely under my radar. Having not played it, I was a little worried about going straight to the sequel. Would The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 launch me into the middle of a story with little clue as to what was going on? Luckily, the storytelling prowess of developer King ART immediately assuaged these initial fears. From the moment I finished the introduction, in which I helped save one of the main characters from plummeting through the sky to his death (by summoning a genie and negotiating the use of a magic carpet), I felt right at home. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 may be a sequel, but it stands – and stands out – just fine on its own.
The basis of the story is relatively generic. Set in a fantasy land named Aventasia, three central characters each go about their daily lives until an epidemic – described as a power that transforms lands – strikes a location named Seastone. Thus these heroes are drawn together to save the world. What sets this all-purpose adventure story template apart is the fantastic characterisation of the game’s protagonists. There’s Princess Ivo, bored and decidedly unenthusiastic about her arranged marriage to a vain Prince, who suddenly finds herself ‘cursed’ by a pregnancy not conceived the orthodox way. Rouge pirate Nate, with whom the player is first acquainted in the aforementioned introduction, and bumbling gnome-mage Wilbur, struggling to cope with the bratty students in his new teaching position at Seastone, round out the central characters. The voice acting is superb across the board; the dialogue is well written, snappy and distinct.
Length: 15-20 hours
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 excels in the way in which it appropriates various aspects of popular culture and, in particular, gaming tropes, in order to weave its story. The references and in-jokes are plentiful – Cloud Strife’s Buster sword and a Portal companion cube both make early appearances, as do nods to series such as Game of Thrones and The Elder Scrolls. One of the first objectives I encountered amusingly played with RPG tropes: controlling the Princess, I was required to raise her fishing abilities in order to catch a ‘red herring’ for a potion. Simply practicing reaped slow rewards, as did reading a book about fishing techniques. Finding and equipping a fishing hat, however, raised the Princess’s ability to fish by 1000 points and I was away. When it comes to cultural appropriation the game certainly goes all-in. However, the satire at play in The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 succeeds because it is both playful and, for the most part, well contextualised within the gameplay and narrative.
Visually the game looks fantastic: the developer has obviously taken a lot of pride in the artwork, and it shows. Importantly, the puzzles work for the game rather than against it. While there were occasional moments where I felt slightly adrift and was just clicking all over the screen trying to figure out what I was supposed to do, most of the objectives the player is tasked with flow in a logical way. The majority of puzzles within The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 are interesting, humorous, or both.
Back and forth.
The game is not without the occasional misstep, however. Facial animations are the source of one slightly annoying presentation aspect, in that the movement of characters’ lips are sometimes out of sync with the words they’re saying. In addition, my enjoyment was marred by the occasional glitch, such as characters getting stuck or not reacting to my instructions. Occasionally, this required me to restart the game from my last autosave.
In terms of gameplay, some stages also require a lot of back-and-forth navigation across multiple screens. While this is, to a certain extent, to be expected from a point-and-click game, occasionally it felt repetitive and superfluous.
It just clicks.
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is easily one of the best point-and-click adventure games I have played in recent years. Despite being a sequel, the game stands out well on its own and can be enjoyed by newcomers to the series without any difficulties. The characterisation is strong, and the writing is entertaining. The puzzles are logical and the presentation is fantastic. A few bugs aside, there isn’t a lot wrong with The Book of Unwritten Tales 2. I heartily recommend it to fans of the genre and anyone who enjoys a tongue-in-cheek story and a well crafted game.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.