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SummaryBe quiet as a mouse.
The GoodDespite the game's seemingly cute fable-setting, Ghost of a Tale feels surprisingly grim and sombre, taking place on the inhospitable keep of Redpaw. The threatening atmosphere is further accentuated by Tilo's vulnerability with him being a small mouse with few means of defending himself from the big rat-brutes patrolling Redpaw. One player likened this game to ”the Hobbit”, an observation with which I agree. In fact, one of the items you can find in the game strongly reminded me of a particular event from the book so the designers were probably inspired by it. It's a refreshing setting for an RPG that has the player focus much more on stealth and cunning rather than brawn and combat.
The setting is further enhanced by the the rich lore which you will uncover gradually during the course of the game as well as Tilo's own background history, some of it through dialogue but most of it thorough one of the games sub-quests which requires you to collect roses where each one gathered gives another entry on Tilo's background and the events leading up his predicament. You will also meet quite a few interesting and colorful characters on your journey including the mysterious smith and the thieving mouse-siblings Gusto and Fatale. The dialogue is well-written and full of charm and humour and all conversations are accompanied by excellent close-up images of characters faces. Also, a nice touch is that some of the dialogues will require you to play the appropriate song from Tilo's repertoire.
The BadUnfortunately the game-play is quite weak and most notably the rpg-elements. Experience-points only increase your health and nothing else, there are no character-customization whatsoever. The various (mostly thief-related) skills you can learn from certain characters, while interesting, ultimately ends up marginal and under-used. The stealth aspect does not fare much better either. Basically you try to stay unnoticed by the guards and if they spot you run away and try to hide somewhere until they loose you and give up and that's pretty much all there is to it. In fact, you only have to do sneaking for about the first half of the game until you find a costume that allows you to blend in among the guards and after that the game becomes almost trivially easy except for a tedious and frustrating ”boss-fight” at the end. There really aren't much in the way of cerebral challenge either except for a few decent puzzles. Also, on the topic of costumes they are little more than a gimmick, most of them you will probably only wear once to fool a specific character into giving you information or some item. Finally, there's no real conclusion either, it ends with ”to be continued”. Not necessarily a bad thing by itself but as I considered the story the best aspect of the game it does feel even more unsatisfying, especially considering the highly uncertain nature of a sequel.