June 16, 2018

E3 2018 - Hands on with Tunic

During the Xbox E3 Briefing, they showed off a lot of first party and third-party games, but as always, the team at Xbox know the power of the indie and they dedicated a small portion of their jam packed show, to indies. One of the games that caught my eye was Tunic, an isometric adventure game, that seemed to be heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda.

The next day at the Xbox Showcase, I was able to go hands on with the game and I came away impressed, not only does it have a wonderful look, but it also has a solid gameplay base, that I can see myself enjoying for many hours. Kicking it off, the fox awoke on a beach, no signs or people near to inform him of what was going on, but with only a single direction in which to go, I left the beach and headed up towards the stairs.

What the game does well, is hint at places you can go, there were a number of small trees blocking the path, which I could cut down, if I had a sword, but as I did not, I had to go in another direction. The further I ventured, the worse things got for the fox, not only were enemies slowly filling the screens, attacking if I got to close, there were more and more paths I could take, but again, there was no direction. When I first found a sign, I was happy, finally some direction, even if the sign were to say ‘Keep Out’ I would know something, but reading the sign gave me a sense of nothing as fox could not read the language the sign was written in.

So pushing forward, I kept venturing into the forest, eventually coming across a temple, but the main entrance led me to a room with a collapsed wall, so taking the side door, it brought me back out side and then, the path split into two. Without any context, all the signs I had found were in the strange language, I ventured to the left, avoiding a lot of enemies and finally obtaining a sword. Equipping the sword was good, all I had to do, was assign the sword to one of the face buttons, except A, as that was used for dodge. With the sword equipped, all I could do was head back to where I came from and push on towards the other path.

The first room I went back into with the sword was different, because I could now attack back, pulling the left trigger, enables a targeting system, letting fox move around the target, keeping them the focus of the attacks. Attacking can be done by single presses, which give a single attack, but pressing them in a pattern, will result in successive attacks, which can deal a little more damage. After vanquishing my first enemy, I went back to where the path split and took the other way, and right away found a bunch of trees blocking the path, sword in hand, a quick cut and I was moving forward once again.

After a while, I found more enemies, much larger than the ones I had encountered up to this point and they dealt out some massive amounts of damage. But thankfully, one room contained a treasure chest, where I was able to find a health potion, drinking it restored a lot of my health, but not all of it, so I ventured forward, once again, with caution on my mind. However, it was for naught as I soon found a much, much larger creature, which was dangerous, as the first attack it landed, after a cool activation sequence, took away three quarters of my health. Trying to run away was pointless as the second attack landed with ease, the enemy lunging from across the room to hit me and I died.

What I love about the game, is not only was all of it done by a single developer, it is clearly a love letter to the adventure games of old, and yes Zelda is most assuredly included in that. How the game will play over the hours, it will likely take to finish it, or how the items I were picked up, would be used in the game, are things I want to know, but for now Tunic is a game that has my attention and it should have yours.

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