Critter returns, along with Wilbur, Nate and Ivo, and a massive cast of weird and wonderful characters.
KING Art’s Book of Unwritten Tales and the prequel The Critter Chronicles managed to charm gamers with its classic point and click gameplay, a good sense of humour and some truly stellar writing. It was such a great game that the sequel, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, required something a little more musical than a simple trailer to announce its release. Successfully being funded on KickStarter and having spent some time on Steam Early Access, I can well imagine that a little song about how great the game is would be justified.
It is this kind of quirkiness that makes The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 such a joy to play. Sure, the game is a visual treat, offers some enjoyable puzzles and tells an engrossing story, but the humour is really where the game shines. That and the numerous references to pop culture.
Take the tutorial for example. Realistically, point and click adventures are probably the simplest games to play, but KING Art goes the extra mile by providing a tutorial that explains the mechanics of playing the game, such as when to use left or right click on the mouse. This could have been fairly dull, but instead the developers will have the player controlling what looks like a slightly downtrodden Wall-E clone as he goes about replacing cogs and pulling levers on a somewhat broken copy of the Game of Thrones opening sequence. Would the game have been less enjoyable without this little sequence? I don’t think so, but it shows that the developers have gone the extra mile to entertain their fans. The references that appear in the game are numerous, without being overwhelming, and will often raise a knowing smile from the player.
Anyway, some time has passed since the epic conclusion of the first game, and the heroes who entertained us then have all moved on. Wilbur finds himself having to teach magic to kids, Ivo is being held prisoner by her mother who is struggling to find a husband for her headstrong daughter, and Nate and Critter have been picked up by a bounty hunter. Whilst the four main characters remain the same, albeit in different circumstances now, and there are references to the past and appearances from other recurring characters, the amount of time that has passed and the new story means that it is easy for a new player to jump into The book of Unwritten Tales 2 without having played the previous games. That being said, you should play the older games anyway, simply because they are brilliant.
Each of the characters have their own problems and their own situations to deal with. But, as the game progresses, a wider storyline emerges that will once again bring the heroes together. The story is frequently silly, often clever, and thoroughly enjoyable as the player moves from one area to the next and meets all manner of interesting characters along the way. It has to be said that the supporting cast for The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 are all entertaining, without a single character outstaying their welcome or becoming dull (unless they mean to of course).
Complementing the story are the various puzzles that will see the player, for the most part, gathering items and talking to characters. The inventory system is simple to use, and the majority of the item-based puzzles are fairly logical. The occasional puzzle will come up that will require the player to randomly try things out until they get the solution, but these are not too frequent. There are also a couple of times when the puzzles get a little more involved, with varying success. However, for the most part, the puzzles are easy to overcome and shouldn’t prove too much of a problem, which is handy as there is no hint system to aid an ailing player. Players need not despair though, as a simple press of the space bar will highlight everything in a scene that is of interest, reducing the need for pixel hunting.
In an unusual move for a point and click adventure game, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 also manages to cram in some side quests to its more than generous amount of game time. These side quests are optional, not playing a part in the story. But completing them can lead to both Steam achievements and new costumes for the main characters.
From the very beginning of the game, with Nate falling through the sky, the level of polish that KING Art have applied is obvious. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 looks simply stunning. The characters move well and are quite expressive, and the stunning set pieces appear so much more real than the static environments of the previous game, giving an appearance of a CG movie. It is very impressive.
And it doesn’t stop there. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 has a memorable orchestral soundtrack that really sets the scene. The voice acting and localisation, something which so often goes wrong in point and click games, is very well done this time around and really should be applauded, with a wide range of regional accents building the idea of a varied game universe.
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is not without a few bugs however. They are not ground breaking, or at least I didn’t encounter any terminal bugs, but they can be a little annoying and lead to lost progress. Saving the game often is advisable.
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 brings the return of some much loved characters in another adventure that equals, or even outshines, the previous games. The game is funny, exciting, incredibly well made and thoroughly enjoyable. If you enjoy classic point and click adventure games, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 should be at the top of your pile.