A surprising tactic when making a game is giving it a cute appearance only to pair it with punishing gameplay or combat. Soulslike games exist for a reason, and they’re usually easy to spot from a glance. That’s why Tunic, passion project of developer Andrew Shouldice, is so surprising. The colors and vibrancy lull you into a sense of comfort, only to throw a harsh and punishing world at you. However, this may be a world worth seeing if you’re looking for a place to prove yourself and want to lead an adorable hero all the way to victory.
Tunic on Nintendo Switch
The original Tunic was first released in March earlier this year for PC and Xbox. Now that it has expanded to the Nintendo Switch, more players will be able to try out the adventure for themselves. Overall, things feel smooth; the team has captured the very same experience while keeping the Switch’s typical control scheme in mind.
Anyone who’s played the game on other platforms won’t find any new surprises here. There are no added motion controls or anything like that. However, this game definitely fits well in the portable world. Not only is it easy to play on-the-go, its isometric perspective is well-suited to the Switch screen. And that’s just the start.
Donning Your Hero’s Garb
Telling a story without words can be a very difficult endeavor, but games are a very good medium to try it out. Tunic does this in certain ways, but also leaves room for interpretation. You take on the role of a nameless anthropomorphic fox wearing the eponymous “Tunic”. With nothing better to do, it presses forward through a mysterious land full of monsters. Upon coming across a large ornate door, the hero has a vision where they see a large fox-like being sitting in a magical prison. Answering the call, Tunic decides to quest across the land to uncover the power needed to free the being. A rescue mission is always a solid premise for adventuring.
A Tunic Tailored To You
Tunic is a well-made with lots of attention to detail. It has all the feeling of a classic adventure game not at all dissimilar to Link’s Awakening. The hero is at the center of the camera in a solid but colorful world that makes you want to explore. Everything you see is full of charm, from the enemies to the way light plays off of bushes. Even better, the adventure gives you plenty of time to soak it in and play at your own pace.
It’s also a game that relies on your innate curiosity. You have very little information at the start, and a majority of the signs you read are in an unknown language. In a meta fashion, you can actually collect pages of the instruction booklet to provide some guidance, explain controls, or describe items. However, they’re not mandatory, and you’re welcome to work things out for yourself. You’re given plenty of clues in terms of the layout, surrounding enemies, and the items you have on hand. It’s all about exploration and discovery.
This provides a stage for the second major aspect: combat. As you explore, you’ll encounter enemies of varying types. Some are pushovers, and it’s very easy to get overconfident, which can quickly result in mistakes that lead to your demise. Even the weakest enemies have quirky movements which can catch you off guard. The good news is that you’re given a lot of additional items to aid you in battle, since you need every edge you can get. Your base equipment is helpful, but the game is designed in a way that all items have a purpose, and all enemies have their own strategies.
Finding The Right Fit
A lot of stylish clothing has the drawback of being extremely uncomfortable. Though Tunic fits well overall, there are some parts that could use some adjustments. The main one is the necessity for stat improvement. In games such as Link’s Awakening, enemies get stronger and you get more skillful. This one ramps up enemies rapidly, and can be harsh if you haven’t been increasing your stats. This requires you to find specific items which correspond to different stats, then pay money to use them. If you don’t, you will just overall have a much harder time. Even as early as the second boss, if you haven’t leveled up, you’re in for a long and dangerous fight.
The only other issue is the level of vagueness. While curiosity drives the game forward, it can work against it when it comes to items. There are so many items to uncover, and some of them don’t have any clear purpose. So you’ll have to waste them just to see what they do, and then reset them if you don’t want to give them up. This also applies to certain areas that require specific items in order to make sense, like a puzzle missing a piece. It also doesn’t help that the only renewable source of items is a hidden shop with limited inventory. Prepare for a lot of trial-and-error until you find the instruction booklet page that explains how things work.
Putting On The Tunic
Tunic is a 3D action/adventure fantasy game about a little fox on a big journey to free a powerful being from a magical prison. There are a lot of colors, life, and charm throughout the game’s world that encourage curiosity, while at the same time providing a tough-but-satisfying challenge. However, the lack of details can be intimidating to some. Things are not always easy to figure out, and you absolutely must level up to progress if you don’t have the patience to master the game. With all that in mind, if you’re ready for a journey, you should put on a Tunic.
Will Quick is a freelance media wizard living in Spain. When he's not gaming or writing, he's doodling comics or whatever else pops in his head.