Adventure games might be in constant shift nowadays, but there’s nothing like a classically styled title like The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 to remind us that the genre is still very much alive and kicking.
After starting its existence as a Kickstarter project, KING Art’s The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 picks up where the original game left off, bringing back the mismatched group of heroes for another go at pointing and (a lot of) clicking. Even if you’re like me and have not played the first TBOUT, part 2 does a good job in explaining what happened without going into much detail.
Thanks to terrific writing and voice acting as well as a beautiful and colorful presentation, there’s no need for much of a backstory for any of the returning characters. One of them, who just happens to be the protagonist, is a gnome turned mage named Wilbur, who finds himself handling an entire university on his own — a tall task for a guy of his size, or anyone else, for that matter. And to make things worse, an evil power is plotting to take over the world, as usual.
That somewhat cliché premise does its job in serving as a Bilbo-ish push out the door for Wilbur. And he once again teams up with Ivo, a somewhat naive but very resourceful elven princess, boisterous pirate captain Nate and his pink, bumbling creature aptly named Critter. Their initially unique motivations are captivating, and their coming together is extremely well done, regardless of how expected it would be for these returning characters to get together for a common goal.
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 takes cues from an absurd amount of sources, such as role-playing and pop culture, but the most notable influence is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. From the world itself, with a slice of a city very akin to Ahk-Morpork to the overall culture of magic and crazy religions. Wilbur as a mage has a bit of Rincewind in him, but unlike Pratchett’s lovable and incompetent wizard, he grows exponentially as a character — or at least as much as a gnome can, anyway.
Quite differently from other adventure games, and serving probably as one the best parts of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is its pace. You’re never in control of the same character for too long, and for most of the game, each one is in an entirely different part of the gorgeously painted world of Aventasia. When they eventually pair up, the puzzles even adapt to having more than one playable character, with more complex problems to solve.
The gameplay in itself is quite simple in comparison to older adventure games. Puzzles are limited to a few item combinations and the exhaustion of dialog options, but are never dumb or giveaway, leaving a lot for you to figure out, even though the amount if items you’ll ever be carrying is quite low. At some points in the game you’ll be required to back track between a few locations that are thankfully placed in a convenient quick travel map, which speeds up the process of making your way between previously visited locations.
There are even a few luck based games to play in order to progress the story forward, which fit in well with the more classically designed puzzles. So much so that the game even gives you the chance to be devious and “cheat”, by engaging in hidden puzzles that help you give an edge — or if you prefer, you can bet on your own skill .
At the end of the day, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is a fantastic adventure game that serves as a good middle point for what’s probably bound to be a trilogy. For as much as anyone might scoff at the prospect of playing a game that still leaves plenty of questions hanging in the air by the time it’s over, TBOUT 2 is so beautiful, charming and funny that it’s easy to forgive it.