DEVELOPER: Andrew Shouldice
PLATFORM: XBOX One
RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2022
Upon loading into Tunic I couldn’t help but immediately think of “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening”. You’re a fox in a green tunic who appears to have washed up on a beach, so the “link” was easy to make. However you spend any amount of time within this title and you realize it’s everything but. Short of the design aesthetic the similarities between Zelda and Tunic disappear. This game really has more in common with Dark Souls than it does Zelda in my opinion, between the “Bonfire” style checkpoints that when used refill you potions and respawn all enemies, the potions themselves being limited in use and upgradable, and death being punished by losing currency that can be recovered through your “Echo”. Hell, even the initial quest to “Ring the East and West Bells” echos Dark Souls’ opening of Ringing the Two Bells to unlock Sen’s Fortress to progress the game.
Despite the similarities however “Tunic” is very approachable in comparison, with a strong emphasis on exploration for hints, upgrades, and more. You’re not provided any direction upon entering the world of “Tunic” and it’s up to the player to discover the first quest objective as well as find your gear to conquer the tasks ahead of you. Though appearing open at first, the world is set up very similar to most action adventure games where areas are initially restricted until you get the right piece of equipment to press ahead. The gameplay mechanic is pretty similar to titles such as most of the Zelda games, as well as other Action Adventure titles requiring you to solve puzzles, open chests, and fight bosses to progress the overall story arch and learn more about who you are and what it is you’ve set out to do.
I am particularly fond of the combat within this game, as being a Souls Veteran it feels fluid where it should, and sluggish elsewhere such as when parrying and dodge rolling, both of which if done incorrectly can be extremely punishing to the player. The enemies within the game are scaled fairly, and so long as you are exploring and finding the proper items to offer to your Fox Deity you won’t find yourself getting trampled by trash mobs. The bosses I encountered were well detailed, the first real obstacle being the Garden Knight who they showcased in the trailer. This boss was tough, but fair as well timed dodges could get you out of the thick of its attacks, however if it gets you, it hits like a truck. Don’t be afraid of death in this game however, as you’re greeted by your Fox Deity who will bless you with rebirth and spawn you at the last shrine you prayed at. Any currency you lose can usually be easily recovered, though if you die again before doing so it will be gone forever.
I grew fond of the graphic style of this title, as though simplistic on the surface the more you explore the more you begin to see each zone has its own unique characteristics and atmosphere all while complemented by the Background Music which I found pleasant even in the dark and gritty locations.
All in all I have to say I’ve enjoyed the time I spent with this title. When I saw the trailer I immediately thought “Zelda Clone” however it’s so much more. This is one I plan to 100% and strongly encourage everyone to play this title if you’re a fan of the Action/Adventure style games. Currently available on Gamepass for Xbox and Windows or $30 USD on Steam, this game will likely easily become one of your favorites.