The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (Switch) Review
Have you ever watched a movie sequel without seeing the first movie, or jumped onto a TV series midseason and have to piece together what happened? This is The Book of Unwritten Tales 2. The original Unwritten Tales is an un-ported tale you can only play on a computer. A stark contrast to its sequel The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, which even appeared on the Wii U. Hell, you can play it on your phone this minute. Now it’s time for the Unwritten Tales 2 to show up on the Switch, so let’s jump in and see what we can piece together.
Now I haven’t played the first game, so playing The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is my first experience with the series. The most I knew going in is that this point and click adventure series is generally well regarded, so I looked forward to the experience. The heroes from the first game; Elven Princess Ivo, Gnome, new Mage teacher Wilbur, and Nate the human troublemaker with his sidekick Critter, are brought back together to save the world of Aventasia. Something has happened to magic and it’s changing the world as they know it in some big ways, and for Ivo in a very personal way. The story is presented in a point and click adventure style, but instead of moving a cursor around you’re moving the character around. One thing that’s hard to ignore is that this game is filled with witty dialogue and interesting characters from the
While Unwritten Tales 2 is an adventure game very firmly in the fantasy genre, it really goes all-in on the comedy as well. There are serious moments and an actual plot, but the game doesn’t leave any stone unturned if there’s comedy to be found. I personally enjoyed a lot of moments spent with Wilbur, but all the main characters are likeable and quite funny. I can’t guarantee that you’ll be laughing heartily but it’s hard not to smile through many of the conversations. There is also a healthy does of gaming and pop culture references. Some are surprisingly modern, as well as lot of nods to point and click adventures, including a segment I’d rather not spoil but is a surprisingly nostalgic trip to the past as it’s still making jokes. While the main characters are great, there’s a few stand out characters. One early standout was a Troll character, essentially an ‘internet troll’. The joke was lost on me for a few minutes, but with the vigour he took in being horrible to others just for the sake of aggravating the character it hit me that it wasn’t just grumpy fantasy troll. Then when I least expected it there was a reference from the TV series Scrubs. That actually happens a lot over the course of the game.
Being a point and click adventure game, there is of course puzzles. In Unwritten Tales 2 they’re often environmental, logic or collectathon puzzles. There’s some really interesting and clever logic puzzles in this game, and it’s great when you figure them out. There’s also the puzzles where you have to scour every point of interest to find items, which gets tiring fast when movement can be so slow. Plenty of the puzzles can be worked out in time by yourself, but there are a few in each chapter that rely on ‘moon logic’. In more than one case I didn’t have any idea what I needed to do next, the leap they attempted to make was so unintuitive. It was like Batman and Robin in the 60s TV series trying to solve one of the Riddler’s riddles that required ridiculous leaps of logic. I’m not ashamed to admit I did have to peek at a no spoilers guide for a small amount of puzzles over the course of this 20-25ish hour game. Overall the puzzles aren’t unlike what you’d find in most other adventure games.
Controls make this game more of a struggle than it needs to be. Movement is slow, frustratingly slow when you’re going back and forth a lot. Worse was that you don’t get access to any semblance of fast travel until many hours into the game, and then it’s not a permanent option. Characters often bug out, getting stuck in loops, in the scenery when needing to perform time limited actions, or even worse when you need to switch between characters quickly. The initial hurdle is that there is often too many points of interest clumped together, so you have to sift through a few options to what you’re looking at. Thankfully Unwritten Tales 2 has a button that highlights every point of interest at once, giving you a much wider range of what to interact with. However once you have to use an item, or worse yet combine two items, the whole system is really fiddly.
Even though it’s been a few years, it still looks nice and sounds good. They make the most of the fantasy theme and create some lovely settings. The sound is suitably fitting, whether it calls for grand fantasy music or just background whimsical. The music can wear a bit thin after some of the lengthier puzzles, but that shouldn’t take away from the quality of it. The voice acting is also pretty good, enough that I would want to hear the main characters dialogue instead of rush past after reading. On handheld it still looks really good, although you’ll want to make good use of that ‘highlight points of interest’ button.
For all the great qualities of this game, it’s still hard to ignore the lack of any form of recap of the first game. Unwritten Tales 2 references events and actions characters did from the first game, and there’s no real context provided. You can still play the game without that knowledge, but you’ll be reminded throughout that you are missing out on context. Some story moments lose their impact because you have no idea who someone is. The big disappointment is that the original game wasn’t also released on the Switch, if the quality is anywhere around as good as the second.
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is a great ‘point and click’ adventure game. Over the course of the game you’ll be pulled out of the moment as they reintroduce characters with little context, or mention moments you never saw if you missed the original game. Despite this and some frustrating controls and movement, the game is worth checking out if you don’t already have it on another platform. Genuinely humorous and fun adventure games are far and few between, so if you’re willing to overlook some manageable issues it’s definitely worth a look.
- Interesting adventure and characters
-Still looks and sounds good a few years later
- Humourous throughout
- The game never feels suited for controllers
- Getting around the world feels slow
- Often lacks context without playing the first game (not available on Switch)