Making its appearance during the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing, the isometric camera, colorful visuals, and exploratory gameplay of Tunic were immediately drawing links to another green tunic wearing adventurer. And getting our hands on this title showed that indeed, there are similarities, but Tunic is trying some unique things that make it stand on its own.
Waking on the beach of a small island, I took control of the little fox adventurer as he ascended some lengthy stairs, roll-dodging aggressive blobs and made my way into a small cave. Inside I found a small, unlocked chest that contained a large stick for whacking enemies across the head — which I quickly proceeded to do once outside of the cave, turning those blobs into soft puddles of goo.
Outside, I ventured further up more stairs and deeper into this mysterious island, fighting off a growing number of enemies through well-timed dodging, more whacks from my stick, and picking up the colorful gems that were dropped after their immediate deaths. And then the island itself began to fight back, restricting where I could venture – I needed a more powerful weapon to cut a path to a new area. Nearby, another cave beckoned me to enter and provided a few more chests to open, giving me a sharp sword and a metal shield.
Now I was ready for a more powerful enemy and the island was more than willing to oblige as I faced off against a menacing knight. Studying his pattern of attack, dodging and countering, the test of combat immediately became much more challenging. Venturing further into the island, cutting my paths through sponge-like trees into new unexplored areas, combat increased its challenge as the number of enemies continued to grow throughout the demo with a combo of blobs and a knight; then a group of knights; then a group of knights and a larger, even stronger knight.
Eventually, I succumbed in combat as I failed to effectively dodge and dispatch my enemies before my health expired – indicated by two white pixelated hearts in the lower left corner of the screen. I respawned at a nearby shrine, backtracked my path and was greeted with freshly respawned enemies as well to fight.
All these backtracking, respawned adventures were a series of caverns to explore I had passed up previously, finding that I could have unlocked a ladder to assist with cutting down on my number of backtrack steps, if I had only taken some more time to explore the island’s interior instead of going headstrong into the group of enemies. Shame on me for underestimating the brains underneath Tunic’s proverbial hood, as I’d love to have more of this open-ended, puzzle-based adventurous gameplay in the final version of the game.
My demo (and adventure) concluded as I faced off against a towering stone monolith with arms, indicating that this island may be more than just blobs and knights, and perhaps some form of mystical machinery as well. We’ll have to wait to explore this mysterious island and the rest of its secrets later when Tunic arrives on Xbox One.