The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Tommy Robbins 18.08.2016

Review for The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 on PlayStation 4

In 2015, German game developer King Art Games set out to bring forth the second instalment in their Book of Unwritten Tales series. Promising heart, adventure, and off-the-wall referential humour, they set to Kickstarter, raising over $171,593 towards development over the course of the campaign. While The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 mostly holds to its promise, delivering a soulful adventure game and some genuine laughs throughout, there are a few issues that come into focus as the game plods along on its slow burn.

From the very beginning, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 dazzles in visual spectacle. With an introductory scene that literally seats the player in an open free fall towards earth, a certain momentum is set. This expectation of momentum is, unfortunately, poorly met.

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 tells a story of four characters with intertwining fates. Transferring between these characters as the story unfolds offers a decent bit of diversity throughout, telling the stories of Ivo, a lonely elf princess; Wilbur, a gnome trying to prove himself as a mage; Critter, the strange fuzz-covered alien; and Nate, the self-absorbed human...go figure. Their fates are brought together when they must reunite to face the evil force that creeps across their land of Adventasia transforming horrifying creatures and majestic castles into children's play toys much to the likeness of 'The Nothing,' the force of evil that engulfed the land of the 1984 film adaption of The NeverEnding Story. Referential nods to nerd culture like this make up the bulk of the meat in The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, and while, at first, it feels nice to be in on the jokes, it's only a matter of time before they begin to wear thin.

Screenshot for The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 on PlayStation 4

This is where things begin to unravel. The puzzling and questing mechanics that make up any adventure game are solid, though at times slightly convoluted, but the game is padded out with extensive bits of exposition that almost completely rely on "being in on the joke." These winks and nods are great at first, but eventually just become eye-roll inducing. The occasions where you miss the reference feel even worse as you sense the joke happening and simply don't care that it has gone over your head. Now base entire lengths of gameplay on this type of tone and it is a recipe for disastrously disappointing sessions where the player simply wants to get to the end. There are plenty of truly clever gameplay moments inspired by pop culture or gaming history, but more times than not these play out far too long for the cheap laugh they hardly earned.

Bad news aside, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 isn't all convoluted referential humour. The adventure game that resides under this blanket of humour is worthy of praise for functioning as the backbone of this remarkably long game. It's basic adventure game stuff, and at the risk of sounding cliché, anyone that has played any classic adventure games will know exactly what's in store. For some, these can feel long and defeating, but for those who thrive in this type of gameplay, the reward is progression. When this title presents its players with a problem, there could be many steps towards the solution and in that, a sea of experimentation. Obtaining objects along the way and witnessing the path to success open little by little hearkens back to what made the classics so good. This is when The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is at its best.

Screenshot for The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 feels like a game made for those who live in internet meme culture and who believe classic adventure games are the last great phase of video games. The heavy-handed approach at humour is at times hysterical and at others insufferable. Saved mostly by solid gameplay and puzzle mechanics, the biggest issue it faces is not knowing when to stop. Plodding on for hours and hours, the humour wears thin and its strengths are battered by exposure. Were this game to have been half the length it would hold potential for greatness, and that greatness is still there, just stretched thin over far too much canvas.

Developer

KING Art

Publisher

Nordic

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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