Point-and Click Adventure re-vitalised and re-thoughtThe Book of Unwritten Tales
was the first game by the German development studio King Art to be released internationally, in 2012. It put this adventure games-developer firmly on the map, and has been praised for adding a unique feel to the classic point-and-click adventure genre.
For me it has been a long time since I last played a game like this. Actually, it was only since the adventure games by Telltale Games that I was redrawn into the genre, having played several of the classics many, many years ago (think 90's stuff). While the Telltale concept of adventure games focuses on a new kind of storytelling in combination with some action scenes, King Art completely stays within the boundaries of the classic adventure genre. Literally the only thing that needs to be done to complete this game, is pointing and clicking - the keyboard nor any other action is necessary, apart from pressing "spacebar" in order to see which objects are interactable with.
While this may feel like a somewhat all too classic an approach for a game in the 2010's, it actually still works pretty well. Of course, just like any moint and click adventure game, The Book of Unwriten Tales
has a lot of puzzles, but these don't feel like being tucked onto the game in order to provide a challenge or prolong playtime. The puzzles in this game form an organical part of it: they arise out of the situation, and most (if not all) of them can be solved by just thinking, not by gratuitously pointing and clicking all over the place (so it could as well be called a point and think game).
That a classic adventure game like this still works nowadays, is mainly due to the interesting storyline, which drew me into the game pretty quick, helped by the amazingly original and beautiful artwork. The soundtrack too is top-notch and strikes the perfect balance between providing some background music and yet helps in painting each scene. The music even drew me into the game in an emotional way: it helped me to identify with the characters. Even more helpful in this respect is this gorgeous voice-acting, which draws the playable and non-playable characters out as men, women and monsters of flesh and blood (or of bones or anything else).
Playing for a large part as the young Welsh gnome Wilbur Weathervane (www - just one of the many small puns) made me identify with this smart an witty character very soon, even more so since young Wilbur looks at life in a refreshing, sometimes naive way. Later in the game other characters come into play as well, providing some welcome contrasts, but it always felt like coming home whenever Wilbur was the one I was in charge of. The game does tend to "let go" on this strong point near the end, when Wilbur disappears more or less into the background.
While all these qualities help to make a game of good to very good quality, the one element that differentiates The Book of Unwritten Tales
from lots of other games, is the humour and even the irony with which the game looks at itself and at the entire world of games. Describing individual scenes from this game is difficult without resorting to spoilers, but when at a point quite early in the game I had to shut down a "server" for a "rpg machine" in order to rid two side-characters from their "game-addiction", I laughed out loud. The entire game is full of these sidekicks at the gaming industry, complete with wondrous quotes and one-liners. When a very depressed Death himself at a certain points says "This is an adventure game, nobody is supposed to actually die here", you know you're in for a treat.
Besides the poking at different games and genres, The Book of Unwritten Tales
also makes fun or rather poses some questions about the entire fantasy-concept. It does so by obvious references to The Lord of the Rings
, but also by turning some conventions from the fantasy-genre upside down or inside-out. All in all, this is a game into a lot of thinking has been put, without interfering with the actual fun of playing it. I can only recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone even remotedly interested in adventure games. And for all of you who have forgotten how a classic point-and-click game should look and play like, don't look any further. They don't come any better than this one for the time being.Overall score: 9/10