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The Book of Unwritten Tales (Windows)

84
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.3
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  thud (88)
Written on  :  Sep 09, 2012
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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Summary

Fun for the whole family? Probably not, only most of them.

The Good

Where to start? Artwork, voice acting, music ... all excellent, probably in about that order too. Story ... actually it's easy to forget about this (I'll have to play the game again just to be reminded of it) as the many, many, many cultural references (Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Narnia books, and on and on) and gaming jokes will have you laughing out loud to the point where you forget the plot (but it's a pretty good plot, as far as I can remember).

You can easily see the quality of the artwork from promotional materials and screen shots, so I won't dwell on those. Unlike another game (that I won't whisper about), the artwork includes high-quality characters, and not just the backdrops.

The voice acting (and it really IS acting too) is stellar, the weakest character is Nate (and in keeping with adventure game tropes, he really should sound just a bit cheesy, be grateful that he's doesn't have a leather jacket and blue jeans too) and he's not voiced very badly either so the rest of the characters must have been stellar. There's not a dud in the bunch although non-UK people may wonder about some of the accents (which brings up one of the very few things to complain about with this game, as the subtitles do not always match the spoken dialogue, and there are a few typos too).

The music ... well, from the very beginning, when the composer borrows from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' I knew I was going to enjoy this game. Unlike many other games, the music really stands out. It doesn't call attention to itself either, no unnecessary flash, but it really gets the job done. And after you have finished the game you will go looking for it.

Puzzles / game play ... not so much. If you have any problems, it's time to go to bed, it may be three in the morning already. If something is in your inventory then you need it for something - or perhaps another character can use it. I keep hearing that Adventure Games are dead, but they only seem to get better. Here, instead of the usual single hero, you get to play as four (I need to locate a FAQ so I can find out more about Critter). In fact you HAVE to play as four, the puzzles (and this seems to be rare) need team play. A huge plus in any game, especially welcome in any game that may be of interest to a younger audience.

The Bad

This is a point-and-click, pure and simple. If you can't get beyond this, don't buy it. If you like gaming satire and in-jokes then it will have some giggles for you, but there is no getting past the fact that it is what it is. On the plus side, they have simplified it as much as possible, there are no cat-hair mustaches or rats to tape dynamite too. Only one quick time sequence, annoying but not too hard. No pixel-grubbing either, press the space bar and every hot spot shows up.

Some annoying graphics glitches, given the pedigree of this game there should not have been ANY. Very annoying when they happen ... although this may have been due to a non-standard resolution on my part. As far as I can tell, this game should play best at 1920 x 1200 resolution.

As mentioned, the dialogue and the subtitles do not always match.

The Bottom Line

It's fun for almost everyone, but it's not for the whole family. For younger players, there are some great visual gags and not much offensive (Nate has a few things to say that get bleeped out), plus a lot of words that will go right over their heads. For older players, there is a lot of humour and some wonderful music, plus a lot of visual gags they will miss. But they will probably get all of the cultural references and in-jokes (me, I had to look up a few, plus the playing card jokes zinged right by me).

It's not for teenagers ... there's no killing, they won't get the humour, they think they're too old for it. They may not leave the room if they see people playing it, they may come and have a look if there's laughter, but they won't play it by themselves for long. (You may need a teenager to explain the playing card jokes to you.)

I enjoyed it a bunch ... it's still on my hard drive too, even though it's 5 gigabytes and my hard drive is almost full. My only decision is when I replay it. There's lots of replay value too, I like to go through all of the dialogue choices but this game does not always give you that particular option, so if you want to hear all of the dialogue you will have to play it again. Which is a bug plus, I think, any excuse to play this masterpiece again ...

I waffled for a while about buying YET ANOTHER point-and-click, but it was money well-spent, I enjoyed it hugely and was even sorry when it ended, because I wanted more. There is apparently a sequel in the works if they are successful with this title ...