The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Review

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The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is a 2015 German Point and Click adventure game developed by King Art Games and published by THQ Nordic. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 was originally released in 2015, but was re-released for the Wii U in 2016 and the Nintendo Switch in 2019, which is the basis for this review. Despite its title, it is actually the third title in The Book of Unwritten Tales series, preceded by the first game in 2009 and the prequel game The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles in 2012. King Art Games primarily releases point and click adventure games, including The Raven and Black Mirror.

Having recently saved the world, Ivodora (Princess of the elves), Wilbur (the gnome mage), Nate (Captain of the Airship Mary) and Critter (a purple sasquatch-like character who speaks with grunts and shrieks) each go their separate ways and attempt to resume a normal life. However, after Ivo finds herself cursed and Wilbur discovers a magical conspiracy threatening the arch-mage, the quad must reunite to find the source of this conspiracy and ultimately save the world again.

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The gameplay of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 plays like a typical point and click adventure. The player goes around to a select number of scenes filled with interesting people and items and also to solve puzzles, which in turn unlocks a new set of scenes for the player to explore and solve. These puzzles form the core of the experience and are superbly executed. Unlike many point and clicks, which fall into tropes of solving absurd puzzles by trying every possible solution to ultimately find the correct one, there is always a decent lead or hint. The game provides a key explanation for each item when you examine them in your inventory, showing the player a nice indication of how to use their items. Additionally, the world lets you try some absurd solutions and has the main character actual entertaining the idea, instead of just a canned “that won’t work” dialogue, like stealing an object from a person instead of trying to trade for it. Many of the puzzles are layered and incredibly clever, such as a puzzle where critter orders a cocktail.  The player has to figure out the correct dialogue in Critter’s nonsense language to order the correct cocktail and then watch the mixologist prepare said cocktail so the player could infer the steps for a different cocktail. This approach integrates the wackiness of the character in with the puzzle design to allow for a funny character moment perfectly integrated within a puzzle.

Unlike PC point and clicks that use the mouse to select items or Wii point and clicks that use the IR sensor, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 uses the control sticks to touchily select onscreen objects, instead of a simulated pointer like in World of Goo or the switch’s touchscreen. The small control issues keep bubbling up over the entire game, like different controls for navigating the inventory compared to the overworld, or buttons switching functions depending on how many times the object has been interacted with. Finally, the game is fairly glitchy — I had to reload the game when a cut-scene failed to load right after the final battle and had numerous problems switching between characters.  Ultimately, I found out I was able to switch characters after reloading a few times or pressing and holding the switch button for three or so seconds, but both glitches made me fear that I was permanently stuck in the game. This is amplified by the fact that there was not an option to have more than one save-file, so I couldn’t make frequent saves as a backup.

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Going into The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, I had not played through the first game, so I was not familiar with the characters or the plot. At first, I found the characters trope-filled, boring and pedantic, but as I spent more time with them, I ended up really enjoying them. While Wilbur starts as a naïve character lacking in self-confidence (despite being a hero from the first game), his obliviousness eventually creates some hilarious character moments like when Wilbur organizes a date between a ditzy blonde gold-digger and an older vampire. While both characters are clearly planning on taking advantage of the other, Wilbur thinks he is advancing love. Ivo’s character similarly feels slow to build, but this slow start does allow for the player to be fully caught up on the sequel. As such, the game does a good job of getting the player caught up on the story even if they hadn’t played the first game, building to an ultimately funny, creative story, despite the slow start. Despite the focus of the game being on its writing, story, and puzzles, the graphics and animations are still strong, with clever idle animations showing character personalities without saying a word. I especially like the way the fire exuded a warm glow, in both a welcoming and frightening way, dependent on the specific scene.

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2’s focus on story, characters and puzzles lead it to be a solid romp that challenges and surprises along the way. The biggest setback in the games’ execution is its touchy controls and odd glitches, which hamper the version for the Nintendo Switch. As such, if I could replay the game, I would replay it on PC so I could use a keyboard and mouse as well as have multiple saves. While the story and characters may provide a slow start, the game ultimately does not require the player to have played the first game and represents a good jumping on point within the series. Annoying character traits from early in the game are turned on their head for hilarious moments later, while the competent graphics, lighting and animation all help to advance the game. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 spins a humorous yarn with creative and unique puzzles front and center, despite some control and performance issues.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Review
  • Gameplay - 8/10
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  • Graphics - 7/10
    7/10
  • Sound - 7/10
    7/10
  • Replay Value - 4/10
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User Review
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Comments Rating 0/10 (0 reviews)
Overall
7/10

Summary

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 spins a humorous yarn with creative and unique puzzles front and center, despite some control and performance issues.