“The Book of Unwritten Tales” is an unashamedly old-school point and click game. While visually it’s anything but retro, other aspects of the game are deliberately simple. Plot-wise, the bad guys are bad, the good guys are good and the world is in peril. There is no attempt to be mature or philosophical.
As for the game play, a left click on a hotspot talks, looks or picks up as is appropriate, and a right click brings up the inventory. Puzzles are mostly inventory, with some dialogue puzzles and a couple of mini games thrown in the mix.
So why a five star review? Because everything is done expertly. First of all, the game is far from short. Consisting of three long chapters and two short intro/epilogue ones, it took around 15 hours to complete, with no padding such as mazes, backtracking or repetitive tasks. That’s a lot of game for the cost.
Secondly, the game is just pure fun. While not the most challenging, the puzzles are at least adequate, and the writing is superb. Not laugh-out-loud funny, but certainly amusing throughout the game. The graphics and voice acting are also done well, if you’re the sort to care about such things.
Finally, if you’re the type to want all plot and no challenge, hotspots in the game disappear once you’ve exhausted their usefulness. This means that even if you have no clue how to proceed, very quickly after clicking on everything you’ll either figure it out by what remains, or be able to quickly brute-force it. It’s not exactly a hint system, but it works just as well.
Since expounding on the positive is dull, here are all the minor annoyances I’ve encountered:
- Some screens have a slight problem with hotspot highlighting, where a hotspot is missed and instead another area is shown. Except for one screen, leaving and re-entering fixes this issue.
- I was unable to complete one of the early mini games due to a bug in the game. Decreasing the graphics quality fixed this problem, but this is not a workaround that would occur to a non-programmer.
- Some features of the game, such as the multi-character puzzles and having multiple paths, are underused. There is one short section where you can choose who to use (and it barely matters), and the multi-character sections are usually also short and feature one “main” character instead of several working together. This doesn’t detract from the game, but it hints at things that could’ve been even better.
- Finally, the last act is a bit rushed and the ending is abrupt. I expected some mega-puzzle involving all characters or something, instead it was 90% cutscene and some very light puzzling.
The above are not enough to lose even half a star, though. The game does everything important right: You can’t die, you can’t get to an unwinnable state, the autosave works even if the game crashes, no unfair puzzles, no padding. In other words, every minute of playing the game is spent saving the world in an enjoyable matter. I can’t ask for more in a game.
Time Played: 10-20 hours