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TUNIC review: A charming world to get lost in

TUNIC is an upcoming action-adventure indie game from Finji (Image via TUNIC)
TUNIC is an upcoming action-adventure indie game from Finji (Image via TUNIC)
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Sourav Banik

TUNIC is an upcoming action-adventure game showcasing the adventures of a small fox out in a world from which he doesn't belong. The game is presented to players in an isometric view, where they explore the wilderness, discover spooky ruins, fight terrible creatures, and collect various items for story progression.

The game's structure is similar to that of The Legend of Zelda. Progress is limited to certain areas of the game's world until a new weapon or ability has been collected for the fox to use. A different and undecipherable language has been used in most cases apart from English in certain parts.

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TUNIC: "Get some rest... you'll need it"

Story

TUNIC is a fresh indie approach where an anthropomorphic fox is out for adventure in a world of unknown nature. The little creature is unaware of the difficulties he will face to achieve the items needed for the story to progress.

The game might look simple, but it beautifully portrays a combination of puzzle-solving and combat throughout the journey.

An enchanted location (Screenshot via TUNIC)
An enchanted location (Screenshot via TUNIC)

The game offers multiple layers of verticalities. As the game starts, we can see that the fox is peacefully lying on a beach and then gradually moves up the land to begin with his adventures. The game's main objective is to open a treasure that was sealed years ago in this unknown far-off land.

As the story progresses, players will find pages dispersed around different locations in the game's world. These pages, when combined, form a journal, hinting at the big picture. The journal also serves as a guide to the game, instructing players about controls and directions.

A glimpse of TUNIC's world (Screenshot via TUNIC)
A glimpse of TUNIC's world (Screenshot via TUNIC)

It’s easy to get lost in other locations as all the locations are unlocked from the beginning itself. However, players will eventually realize that the lack of appropriate tools will prevent them from accessing those particular areas.


Gameplay

TUNIC offers pretty straightforward gameplay. The game shows that the little fox is on his way to explore the world in an isometric form of view. An option to switch to a more top-down view in combat was also available.

This helped me understand the distinction between different elevation levels, which might be challenging to understand in specific scenarios.

Normal top-down view (Screenshot via TUNIC)
Normal top-down view (Screenshot via TUNIC)
Extended top-down view (Screenshot via TUNIC)
Extended top-down view (Screenshot via TUNIC)

The overall functioning of the game's environment is very similar to that of The Legend of Zelda. Progress is limited to some regions of the world until I collect a new weapon or ability for the fox to use.

Initially, players were provided with a basic melee weapon to learn the fundamentals of combat. But as the game progresses, better weapons can be unlocked, which helps in the game's further progress.

This includes magic as well. There were certain locations where I could refill my health and stamina, followed by an animated in-game overnight transformation. These locations also serve as a spot to save the game.

A save game location in TUNIC (Screenshot via TUNIC)
A save game location in TUNIC (Screenshot via TUNIC)

The journal, acting more like a manual, plays a significant role in my approach towards the game. One thing I found unique was that the gamepad controls were unlocked via a page found during the early stages of the game.

Generally, the controls can be found in the game's settings menu, but in this case, only the keyboard controls were stated.

Only keyboard controls are shown in the settings menu (Screenshot via TUNIC)
Only keyboard controls are shown in the settings menu (Screenshot via TUNIC)

Even though the details of the gamepad controls were unlocked later, the game showed which button I needed to use in front of an interactable object or creature. However, I feel that adding the gamepad controls to the game settings menu would be a good idea once the required page is discovered.

This will help players to check the controls quickly. Otherwise, it can be time-consuming since they will have to go through several manual pages to get what they want to know or check.

The world is filled with various secrets and pathways. These secrets appear in different forms, and getting our hands on those feels rewarding. This is because a good amount of effort goes into discovering the path towards the secret item.

This should come in handy. 🦊 🗝️TUNIC releases in three days.tunicgame.com https://t.co/cd52Spu7Vp

Combat

Combat in TUNIC is mostly melee-based until the player comes across the power of magic. On the bottom-left of the screen, I could see a health bar in pink and a stamina bar in green.

Like Elden Ring, the stamina bar gets refilled as soon as I stop rolling or dodging enemies in combat.

Initially, a basic melee weapon was provided to get used to the combat controls. I could lock on to a nearby enemy, revealing its health status, giving me a good idea about the number of blows I need to deal to take that creature down.

As I progressed with the story, I discovered better weapons that helped me maneuver through some map regions that would not have been possible otherwise.

Danger is around every corner. Are you sure you're ready? 🦊💣TUNIC launches in two days.tunicgame.com https://t.co/KpF0ozqIUc

After the magic gets unlocked, a blue bar shows up just beside the stamina bar, indicating the quantity that is available to use. Magic is helpful, especially when there are scenarios to take down enemies from a distance.

During the game, I had to encounter different types of enemies. This includes enemies who can inflict ranged damage, melee damage, magical damage, flying creatures, and obviously, boss fights. Boss fights are meant to be a bit difficult and require skillful use of powers and abilities.

Enemies that can inflict ranged damage (Screenshot via TUNIC)
Enemies that can inflict ranged damage (Screenshot via TUNIC)
Different types of enemies (Screenshot via FINJI)
Different types of enemies (Screenshot via FINJI)

There are certain locations on the map where explosives can be bought using the materials gained after defeating the creatures. These explosives help inflict mass damage where face-to-face combat seems challenging to beat.

These can be equipped with either of the three provided slots, and that particular button needs to be pressed to use them.


Music and environment

The music in the game is very soothing to the ears and occasionally gives a vibe similar to that of Minecraft. The soundtrack is ambient, blending perfectly with the nature and environment of the game.

The music feels even more enchanting upon unlocking a secret item or fulfilling a major task for the story’s progression.

After 7 years, the TUNIC soundtrack is complete. I co-composed it with Janice Kwan @alsojanice, and we're excited to finally share it with everyone. It's 60 tracks and 3 hours long! It'll release March 16, but you can pre-order it now and hear some tracks: lifeformed.bandcamp.com/album/tunic

When it comes to the environment, it rocks a flat, minimalistic yet majestic look, leaving a soothing yet stunning impression on the eyes.


Performance of

The TUNIC press copy provided by Finji was played on the system with the following configuration:

Specification:

  • CPU: Ryzen 5 3600
  • GPU: GTX 1060 6GB
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Preset: High
  • Framerates: Around 180-200 fps

The game's performance was stable throughout and did not crash a single time. There is no option to enable ray-tracing in the game's graphics settings, making it eligible to play on almost any system.


In Conclusion

Get some rest... you'll need it. 🦊💤TUNIC releases tomorrow.tunicgame.com https://t.co/M5fbhfrtUm

Overall, TUNIC gives the feel of multiple games in one. This includes exploration, magic, soul-like combat, puzzle-solving, and more. At times, the language barrier can be a problem but can eventually be deciphered. It can be expected that the game may take 12 hours to complete, but that could increase to 20+ depending on how much time you spend finding all the secrets within the game.

For an indie game, it offers a plethora of elements for players to enjoy. It has the potential to keep them engaged and engrossed in it until a particular task or puzzle gets solved. I got lost in exploration in my playthrough and loved it, as the game offers just enough of that. Finding secret ways, getting rare items, and enjoying the music while playing were some of my best experiences with the game.


TUNIC

Rating of TUNIC by Sportskeeda
Rating of TUNIC by Sportskeeda

Reviewed on: PC (code provided by Finji)

Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and macOS

Developer: Andrew Shouldice

Publisher: Finji

Release: March 16, 2022


Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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