Earlier this month I reviewed Broken Sword 5, which is a sequel in an old school style adventure franchise that I have quite a fondness for. This week I’ve played The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, which is a sequel in an old school style adventure franchise, only this time around I have no prior knowledge of the series as I never had the opportunity to play the original. After a playthrough however, I can safely say that whether you are a newcomer or an old fan, if you like classic style adventure games then you’re going to find plenty to love here.
Things apparently pick up right where the original left off and if you missed the first game (like me) then you may find yourself feeling a little bit lost. Fortunately, the game doesn’t spend too much time on exposition and instead drops you right into the middle of a puzzle. In true adventure game style, you’re tasked with clicking on anything and everything you can to collect strange and obscure items and solve puzzles. Whether this is a good or bad thing is entirely dependent on how much you enjoy the genre.
If you’re a fan, then you’re going to be in heaven as The Book of Unwritten Takes 2 keeps things as old school as possible. It actually took me about an hour to learn the nuances of the puzzle system but after a bit of trial and error, I was able to discern what kind of mindset this game requires of the player, and as long as you’re willing to think outside of the box on occasion, this game’s puzzles shouldn’t leave you stumped for too long.
That isn’t to say that everything goes smooth for the player 100 percent of the time. There were a few puzzles that left me scratching my head for longer than I was happy with. I like to think that I’m pretty good at these kinds of games, but a few of the combinations and implementation of items left me befuddled even after I was able to stumble upon the solution. Most of the solutions make sense, but when I’m supposed to do things like read a storybook to a tree in order to get its branches to grow out of fear, I have to wonder if seeking out a walkthrough was the developer’s intention for me. These puzzles are the exception however, and not the rule. Most of your time will be spent cracking puzzles and feeling like a genius for it.
Even if you don’t love the puzzles though, the story is worth the price of admission. The story’s constructed in a manner that assumes you have played the first game. Many characters and plot points are touched upon and it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on something if you’re not familiar with the world already. That said, once the story kicks into gear, it takes on an identity of its own and you’ll get swept up in a great story filled with rich environments and entertaining characters. Of course, it still all boils down to a bunch of friends teaming up to prevent the end of the world, but even a set-up this clichéd is easy to swallow when the writing is this sharp and the characters are so likeable.
Humor also plays a huge role in this game and I don’t mean you get just a few chuckles either. This is easily one of the funniest games I have ever played, and I found myself laughing out loud a number of different times. The voice acting is spot-on and every actor gives their character everything that they’ve got. From the major characters to the smallest of bit players, every character is brought to life for hilarious results.
There’s also a staggering amount of pop culture references. Just off the top of my head, I can recall references to Minecraft, He-Man, Final Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The X-Files, Monty Python, Gremlins, Wall-E, and plenty more. Most of these references are cleverly implemented and funny, but every once in a while they feel a little ham-fisted. These moments aren’t nearly as enjoyable as when the references come about organically, but thankfully, most of the time they are implemented well. This is important when a game reaches into the pop culture as often as The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 does.
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is high fantasy adventure gaming at its finest and the perfect example of a game clinging tightly to old-school roots while still finding ways to be fresh and fun. I was consistently impressed by the amount of humor and creativity peppered throughout the lengthy experience that this game provides, and I’m glad that the Unwritten Tales didn’t stay that way.
A PS4 review code for Book Of Unwritten Tales 2 was provided by Nordic Games for the purpose of this review