Tuesday, February 5

Review: The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With a resurgent adventure genre alive and well on the Switch there’s both good and bad to be found. On the good side there’s a fair amount of variety in styles, whether you prefer something more traditional or outright odd, mysterious or humorous, etc. The bad news is trying to determine which titles may match your preferred tastes when there are so many choices can be a real challenge. In the case of Book of Unwritten Tales 2 you have a very competently put together adventure with plenty of content, mild humor, and at least an attempt at a story. The downside is perhaps it straddles the middle of the road a bit too much, not pushing you with tougher puzzles and not possessing a strong enough personality to stand out against much more daring competitors.

The story takes place in a fantasy world of elves, magic users, and people in search of adventure. You’ll start out with an introduction to a character falling from the sky and needing to enlist the help of a reluctant genie to bail him out. Once you’re able to resolve this situation you’ll then jump to a elven princess who is dreading an arranged wedding coming up when her heart is filled with a sense of adventure. This structure introduces you to different perspectives and fills in the picture but I’ll admit not having played the original it also was a bit hard to understand what my goal was at times. Thankfully the voice acting and interactions are at least decent, if a bit on the vanilla side, lacking the biting sarcasm of traditional LucasArts fare or the outright weirdness of some other titles already on Switch.

In terms of mechanics it is true to the genre as a whole, though at least there was some care trying to streamline the experience for consoles. You’ll still need to walk around looking at and picking up objects but the ability to see everything you can interact with at the press of a button can be efficient and useful. The fact that at times it seems you need to check some things more than once to advance thing can be a bit annoying though, somewhat defeating that argument of efficiency. Puzzles tend to be pretty straightforward, with nary a red herring to be found, for the most part if you see something very specific or can pick it up there’s a purpose of some kind behind it. While that fact helps to avoid you wasting some time it also often makes solutions feel a bit telegraphed and easy, though that isn’t to say that wading through the process to solve all problems is quick.

If anything I’d say that may be the game’s greatest weakness, the pacing, though this may be a matter of the title’s relative age. Rather than solving problems and moving on too often I found myself lingering in the same area a bit too long working out a few too many somewhat uninteresting puzzles. This is where the game’s ample content feels perhaps a bit too padded with filler rather than being focused on keeping things engaging. It’s not that there are major issues, just a sort of sense of blandness on the whole, I suppose because everything feels a bit “safe”.

As a whole Tales is a pretty respectable adventure that gets enough right to make it worthwhile, just I’d warn that its sensibilities are a bit different from most of the titles on the Switch. That fact is a bit of a double-edged sword though as what makes it stand out isn’t always for the best, though I’ll admit that its overall production values are probably a bit higher than the typical fare, so that’s on its side at least. If you don’t mind the pace being a bit on the slow side, and aren’t expecting the humor or the puzzles to blow you away, Tales is a solid adventure that simply plays a bit differently than anything else on Switch.

Score: 7

  • The overall production values are excellent
  • NPC interactions, though perhaps a bit too wordy, at least attempt to flesh out the characters
  • In many ways the interface is streamlined to keep you moving and not encumbered by a need to blindly click everywhere looking for something

  • As a whole the dialogue is mildly funny but lacking the wit and edge many other titles possess
  • While lacking in red herrings the puzzles often require just methodically exploring dialogue choices or interactions and not necessarily being smart about things
  • In general this is a very middle of the road title in many regards, risking it failing to make a strong impression