Tunic Review – Foxy Zelda
Developer: Andrew Shouldice
Release Date: March 16, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Admittedly, I haven’t really kept up with Tunic much since its initial announcement. It was a game that I watched evolve in trailers with influences to Zelda and Soulsborne, which was reason enough for me to want to check it out. Now that I’ve had the chance to play it, I can say that it is very charming and that, for the most part, it’s an all-around great game.
In Tunic, you play as a cute little fox warrior. You wake up in a mysterious land, where you must ring a number of bells and find some colored gears. There’s no real dialogue to speak of, so the fairly simple story is conveyed through signs and environments. The story isn’t especially important to this kind of game, but I like the world that Tunic has set up. It feels ancient and mystical, without really needing to explain anything.
Tunic plays like Zelda 1, in that you’re dropped into a world and expected to explore for yourself while slashing away at foes. You start with a mere stick as your weapon, but through exploration, you eventually find everything from a sword to a magic wand that shoots energy blasts.
Eventually, you can even find a magic shotgun, which is comical when wielded by a goofy little fox. This variety of weapons and tools makes combat continually interesting throughout the game, as you can change up your tactics with different enemies.
And there are plenty of unique enemy types to encounter, which can be handled in different ways. From the Gatekeeper boss to Quarry snipers, the foes are all visually distinct and varied in how they attack you. Dying to these enemies is a bit of a setback, but like in Soulsborne games, you lose some currency and respawn at your most recent checkpoint.
I do wish there were more checkpoint statues in the game, as there’s quite a lot of back-tracking upon death in certain areas. I don’t mind a bit of back-tracking as a consequence of dying, but the treks can end up being incredibly long and tedious when you’re traveling to distant areas. You do end up gathering a fair amount of gold to shop and upgrade with as a result, though, so even this has its benefits.
One great thing about Tunic is that there are a ton of secrets to be found. Treasures behind seemingly inaccessible secret paths and shortcuts to make traversal a bit easier are pretty much everywhere, encouraging exploration and experimentation. Whenever I got lost and ended up exploring everything to progress, I’d find plenty of nooks and crannies that contained everything from gold to stat upgrade items. I never felt punished for exploring, which is vital to a game like this.
My issue with Tunic is that there’s very little guidance. Don’t get me wrong, this kind of freedom is primarily a good thing, but when even the optional instruction guide that you can collect is mainly written in a fantastical language, it can get a bit confusing.
For example, I didn’t know how to upgrade my stats for quite a while because the way the process was presented to me made me think I’d be selling these upgrade items, which can only be used at a statue. So while I like the freedom afforded by the lack of directions, a little bit of guidance in the mechanics would have been greatly appreciated. There are also a few minor glitches that could use patching. I fell through a few floors and got stuck in objects a few times, but ideally, these bugs will be squashed around launch.
Once you do upgrade your stats, you feel godly. Suddenly, challenging areas are far more manageable, and you’re knocking down weaker enemies with ease. Though I prefer to upgrade for this reason, I appreciate that you don’t really have to upgrade your stats if you are more into a harsher challenge.
One of the most appealing parts of Tunic is its visuals, which are gorgeous, to say the least. There’s a colorful sense of whimsy in the visual style, which perfectly suits the world and characters. There’s a charming simplicity to the overall design of things, which helps make Tunic feel like it was pulled straight out of a storybook.
The music is similarly delightful, as it has a synthy dreaminess that further elevates the relaxing atmosphere. It’s strangely relaxing for a game that has you hack up foes while ringing bells and blowing stuff up, but the laid-back aesthetic somehow works well with it.
Tunic has a couple of issues, but it’s nothing major enough to stop me from thoroughly enjoying the game. It’s a pleasant and relaxing throwback to older Zelda titles with enough secrets to keep you busy for a good while. If the visual style and 16-bit inspiration appeals to you, I’d say Tunic is definitely worth your time. Just get ready to get lost, or stick to a GameFAQs page.
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