Tunic is a game that wears its inspirations on its sleeve. I don’t need to tell you it’s similar to The Legend of Zelda. He even looks like Link, albeit a fuzzy little fox instead of a boy. Delve a little deeper, however, and it is so much more. In the fantastical isometric world, you are treated to gorgeous and vibrant visuals, hidden passageways and dungeons, and tough-as-nails enemies. If you’re expecting a cutesy little expedition, you couldn’t be more wrong.
There’s very little revealed when you start playing Tunic. Much of what you do is about discovery and trial and error. Can’t get through a steel gate? Look for a switch. If there’s no switch or a clear way through, come back later. The chances are you’ll no doubt find something soon to give you passage through it. There’re plenty of avenues to explore as the map begins to grow. Not only does the map grow and the world flesh out, so does your inventory. Hitting enemies with a stick is pretty rubbish, but once you grab a sword and shield, combat becomes much more spicy.
Tunic: Enemies everywhere
Tunic features loads of enemy types. Blobs of slime that spin at you and explode on death; crocodiles that try to clamp their jaws around you; bats with tongues for whips; and more. New enemies are always appearing as you progress, and with them comes new attack patterns. Learning these is vital to defeating them. There’re also boss fights that feel like such a monumental challenge at first. This is where the first comparison to FromSoft comes in.
When you die, your coin remains where you lost your life. Get back to the spot and you can save them, but get butchered again and they’re lost for good. Throughout the world are shrines that you’ll respawn at, but in doing so any enemies that have been slain will reappear. Imagine a game that combines Dark Souls and Zelda. That’s what you’re getting with Tunic. The thing is, it does both series justice.
A world ripe for exploration
The world is filled with hidden passageways for you to explore. Dead ends litter the map, but there’s likely something that’ll help you reach a way past eventually. One of the coolest designs I saw was a ladder hidden in the darkness. When I first ventured into the cave, I had no idea it was there. Once I’d picked up the lantern, I was able to go through a whole dungeon and appear at the top of the stairwell I’d missed before. If I’d have known about it, I could have climbed down much sooner.
This is just one of the reasons I adore Tunic. Everything has its place. Every area plays an important part of your adventure. No two places are the same, and there is always a challenge to overcome. Going from this tiny little fox into a mighty hero slowly starts to happen, but when you get new equipment and slay some of the bigger bosses, you begin to realise how far you’ve come. You will die a lot. You can improve your health flasks by finding broken parts of a potion bottle that will eventually add another for you to use.
Tunic: Prepare to die
Stamina plays into rolling away from enemies and using your shield. Once the stamina gauge empties, you’re left vulnerable to attack. When you roll, enemies won’t do any damage. This offers a brief respite for you to get to a better angle of attack, or avoid an onslaught from all the enemies you’ve accidentally attracted. On the flipside, dodging can reduce your stamina. You’ll find bombs that’ll explode, burn, or freeze anyone that gets in their way, as well as countless other items that don’t make sense until you find their purpose hidden in the pages of the instruction booklet, or choose to to experiment.
Scattered across the world are pages from a booklet. It resembles those old school video game in-sleeves, featuring beautiful artwork and the occasional word that provides a hint for something. This could be a map fragment or what a certain item does. Not only is the world so beautiful, this instruction booklet is delightful to flick through. It’s a great idea. Finding the pages gives you a reason to explore everywhere, just so you can fill it up and see more of the wonderful artwork.
A wonderful world
Tunic is filled with mystery. What the hell are those golden statues? Are those noises coming from the shining purple monoliths a sign of something dangerous? Why are there so many dangerous creatures lurking around every corner? I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of Tunic. While it is difficult at times, I gradually progressed and never got stuck for too long. Dungeons offer more of a challenge, as there’re traps down there as well as enemies. It’s a well-crafted world with everything serving a purpose.
I think Tunic might be one of the standout titles of the year so far. We all expected Elden Ring, Gran Turismo 7, and Horizon Forbidden West to be good. Tunic, on the other hand has provided one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had without expecting it. Coming from one person makes it even more special. Some titles have hundreds of people working on them and often fail to succeed. Many are going to love the Death’s Door similarities, but Tunic is one of a kind. From the satisfying combat to the joy in exploring the ruins, forests, and dungeons, it is one hell of a title.
Plenty of opportunities to explore
The manual is beautifully designed
Some of the bosses are difficult to beat
Has that Soulslike element some players won't like