Review – The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (Switch)

Point-and-click adventures were really popular in the 90’s and while they’ve mostly faded from the limelight, there are still a few around for those that enjoy this type of genre. As a 90’s kid, this genre holds a special place in my heart, although I do understand that it’s not for everyone. There is a delicate balance needed between an engaging story and cohesive interactions with the objects on screen in order to have a truly successful point-and-click style adventure. The Book of Written Tales 2 from THQ Nordic and King Art Games struggles with both of those points.

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 picks up where the previous installment left off. Captain Nate naturally finds himself in a precarious situation with Critter in tow, Princess Ivo is recovering from heartbreak, and Wilbur is trying to settle into his newly appointed professorship at the Mage Academy. A strange new phenomenon is taking over Aventasia by turning buildings and citizens into sickeningly cute creatures and environments, most of which are fluffy and pink.

Sounds like my kind of place.

The story is where my biggest issue with the game lies. Most games that have a sequel will either make a game completely independent from the others or they will at least give you a thorough recap of what has happened previously. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 only gives the briefest of introductions and relies heavily on having the characters make fleeting comments about things that have previously transpired. The rest of the game involves frequent references to other people or events from the first game, but not much is explained, leaving newcomers to the series largely perplexed. I actually ended up going back and playing the first one so I could understand most of the references and inside jokes told in this installment. The game was much more enjoyable after doing so.

I’m not sure. Let go back to the first game to figure that out.

There are a few puzzles in the game that are exceedingly difficult to solve. In most cases, there is some special item you will need to obtain or a set of hints to follow that will guide you to the answer. In The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 there are puzzles that offer no hints or even any sort of logic to follow. It’s simply a matter of trying to combine all of your items together or interact with an object in the environment and hope it works out. There is a machine puzzle about halfway through the game that gives you no instructions on how to make it work properly. It’s purely solved by trial and error. There is an infuriatingly large amount of combinations to try before guessing the right one. Poorly crafted puzzles like that one largely detract from the fun and flow of the game.

The controls can be surprisingly wonky at times. I know what you’re thinking; it’s a point-and-click so there shouldn’t be much in the way of controls, right? Well it’s not so much the pointing and clicking that’s the problem, it’s overall moving the characters around that gets frustrating. Perhaps it’s just an issue with the Switch, but often times when I would try to move someone around the screen, they would sort of meander around the environment for no reason before finally reaching their destination. Even when clicking on an object next to a person I was just talking to, the character would get up twirl around and do a figure eight before landing right back in the exact same spot they were standing in just moments before. It was odd and time consuming to say the least.

An unusual, but important question.

The graphics are much better than I was expecting for a point-and-click adventure game. The character designs are diverse and well animated and the environments are surprisingly intricate. There aren’t many issues with glitches or framerate drops either. As a whole it is an absolutely beautiful game that runs smoothly, aside from the weird random character rerouting patterns.

The music is serviceable, but sadly largely forgettable. The main intro that plays in the beginning as well as the title screen is an over-the-top epic sounding piece and that’s about the only bit of music I can actually still remember. I will say that some of the background music starts to get annoying after a bit, if only because you’ll be stuck in one area for very long stretches at a time. The voice acting on the the other hand, is really well done for the most part. Each of the characters are lively and bring their own unique personality to their roles. It’s surely one of the stronger features of the game.

One of many Monty Python references.

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is a tough one to recommend, mainly due to the fact that if you haven’t played the first one, you’ll be in the dark for much of what is going on during this game. Plus, you won’t understand a lot of the witty humor and inside jokes that make it more delightful to play. There are still some serious pacing issues throughout the game, but things do come together quite nicely after a while and the sections where you have to switch between characters to solve certain puzzles is pretty clever. If you’ve already played the first game, or you don’t mind going back and playing it before trying this one, then you will probably enjoy the story that The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 has to offer.

 

 

Graphics: 9.0

Beautiful graphics with wonderful character designs and elaborate environments.

Gameplay: 5.0

The point-and-click aspects are on point (pun intended), but moving the characters around can be a bit tough. Some of the puzzles make no sense and are needlessly tough to solve.

Sound: 7.0

A somewhat bland soundtrack that doesn’t stand out. The voice acting is enthusiastic and personable, which is great since that’s what you’ll be hearing most.

Fun Factor: 4.0

There are huge pacing issues with some sections moving at a crawl with lengthy portions of unnecessary dialogue. As mentioned previously, some of the puzzles follow no rhyme or reason.

Final Verdict: 6.0

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is now available on Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One X, PS4, PC, and Steam.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 was provided by the publisher.

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