Review by GameTitan83

Reviewed: 01/28/19

Enjoyable Despite the Flaws

Very rarely does a game need to be perfect to be enjoyed. I'll start right off by saying (because you'll start right off by seeing it) that this game has its fair share of glitches. Already in the opening scenes and tutorial (which I've played on both PS3 and Wii U), the frame rate drops and slow down are absolutely un-missable. Now, my friend had never played a point and click adventure, so we toughed it out so that he could experience one. We played for about 10 hours together on his Wii U, and along the way, my wife grew interested and joined us. Since she'd missed the first few hours, she caught up at home by playing the PS3 version I'd received from Playstation Plus. However, my friend's interest eventually waned, and he asked if we could stop playing. Meanwhile, my wife was so into the game that she offered to catch us up on our PS3 version so that the two of us could finish the game. The fact that my wife loved this game enough to play portions of it twice while my friend couldn't make it 10 hours means that who you are and what you like playing will factor greatly into whether or not you can stick with The Book of Unwritten Tales 2.

First off, let's get into why my friend quit. Besides the regular slowdown and graphical twitches, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 suffers from long load times between screens, and the puzzles of the game seem to revel in making you constantly travel between them so that you can see the boring loading screens as often as possible. Meanwhile, the interface is awkward, and would have benefited from one of the analogs being used as a mouse. It's nice that you can walk around by controlling your characters directly, but they tend to change what they're looking at right before you click it, meaning that instead of picking up the item you want, you end up traveling to the next screen (and of course living up two more long load times by the time you've made your way back).

Assigning difficulty to this game is hard because even though it does not require technical skill and the puzzles take little mental effort to solve, many of the ways to progress are nonetheless troublesome to discover. In most cases, interacting with everything until it stops changing its response is the surefire way to move forward in the game's plot, but from the beginning, many objects gain new interaction options only as you've interacted with others. Many times it is not always obvious that the new item you've gained will interact with a previous object that you thought you were done with. Meanwhile, since items in your inventory can also interact and combine with other items in your inventory, the options are pretty numerous. Thankfully, you can select any object and press square to check if it will interact with ANYTHING in the room, but you still have to keep traveling back to rooms and making sure that nothing has changed, and this gets tedious with all the loading time required to travel about. In the end, my wife and I opted to have a strategy guide open at all times, and as soon as we started to notice that we'd interacted with everything and the way forward wasn't obvious, we'd consult the guide. This proved to be a good idea, because some of the game's puzzles are way out in left field. They can be funny once you solve them because they're so ridiculous, but since no amount of intellect will lead you to the solution when it makes no practical sense (which is sometimes the case), you won't be laughing if you waste hours figuring them out yourself.

You would think that letting a strategy guide lead us by the hand through a game that is designed to let you explore and interact would be boring and rote. Frankly, it would have been, except for the fact that the characters in this game are just so much fun to watch. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 was definitely created by individuals who love to laugh, and the amount of parodies, jokes, and sarcasm present in it will easily coax a smile out of even those who end up quitting early. As long as you can keep the plot rolling (strategy guide being the key to that), the game shines brightly, because the characters are the stars of the show. All of the characters are fully voiced, and the inflections of the actors are top notch, breathing life and personality into main and side characters alike. Despite the game's programming clunkiness and sometimes awkwardly non-cinematic interface, the overall package still manages to wow with great animations, backgrounds, and lighting interactions, along with superb orchestral music. Even though the music gets a little repetitive after a while, it is hard to tire of what sounds like a symphony in the background while you traverse the lands.

By no means is The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 a must-play, but just like its dorky little gnome protagonist Wilbur Weathervane, it grew on me, and my appreciation for it increased with each hour played. If you want action, crisp game play, and cinematic greatness, look elsewhere. But if you enjoy a decent story with fun characters, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 might just be your next great adventure.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (US, 09/22/15)

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