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Book of Unwritten Tales 2 review: Consumer of worlds, champion of point-and-click adventures

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 23, 2015
I didn't play the first Book of Unwritten Tales, which I'm now realizing was a mistake. I heard it mentioned a few times at release--mostly in the context of "There's this great point-and-click that came out!"--but never got around to playing it.

There's a warmth and love to Book of Unwritten Tales 2 that keeps it going through the rough patches though. An earnestness, almost. Were it not for some lewd humor, Book of Unwritten Tales 2 would feel like a kid's game. The cast — from elf princess Ivo to wannabe-debonair pirate Nate to friendly-but-fumbling Wilbur — embody a Pixar or Disney-esque "Believe in yourself and you can do anything" type of message that's much more understated (and pleasant) than the typical video game power fantasy.

If I have one complaint, it's that the game ends on a substantial cliffhanger — a dangerous proposition when King ART already turned to Kickstarter for this entry. Will we ever see a sequel? I certainly hope so, considering approximately half of the game's story threads are left dangling at the end.

On the other hand, the fact that I finished the game after 15 hours and still wanted more? That's a great (and rare) sign for me.

Moon logic

Now for how the game plays. I'm an outspoken critic of most point-and-click games thanks to the utter inanity of the puzzles. Book of Unwritten Tales 2 doesn't escape entirely unscathed — there were a few puzzles that had me turning to a walkthrough, and Chapter 5 had me gritting my teeth thanks to the inclusion of a punch-a-hole-in-my-bedroom-wall maze — but overall the puzzles are fairly logical (I'd liken it to another recent favorite, Memoria) and the game is good about prodding you in the right direction when you're stuck. Can't figure out what to do? Chances are talking to every character will solve your issue. In fact, sometimes that is the solution.

My main issue with the puzzle side of the game is the amount of travel you'll do. Each little piece of the story consists of probably 5-10 screens, and you'll wander back and forth between them a lot. Certain areas grant you a map you can use to fast travel around, and I wish that feature had been present for every section.

You can double-click an exit to make the game instantly fade into the next zone, but certain screens pan across to the exit as you move which makes this impossible. You have to walk partway through before the exit becomes visible. Once you've crossed the empty courtyard in the Elfburrow for the dozenth time, it starts to get old.

The game's hit-and-miss when it comes to both how it looks and sounds. The graphics are nothing special, but certain environments are prettier than others. Ironically, the last section (Chapter 5) has some of the best-looking environments in the game. (Typically games tend towards the opposite, looking worse as you go because the developers spent a lot more time and effort getting the first few hours perfect.)

 

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