After Tunic first appeared last March for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and the Nintendo Switch are now also served. The charming action adventure managed to score eight points in our related test apply. Especially the atmospheric presentation, the sophisticated game design and the cute hero have done it for us and have won the title hit. Now the heroic fox must prove that his mysterious journey also works on weaker hardware. In the following text, we want to tell you whether he succeeded and what limitations you should take into account.
The beginning of a heroic saga
Without wasting big words, Tunic throws you into the game. Your hero, said fox, wakes up on a white sand beach without any equipment. What exactly caused you to wash ashore will not be revealed to you at first, nor where you are. Even the first documents and signs give no indication of where you are at the moment, because apart from a few catchwords you can’t decipher anything of the fantasy language in which the documents are written. However, a few steps later you come across a large golden door that tells you your mission through a vision: you must free your captive relative from a mysterious magical cage. For this you need to find three jewels that dominate the strange prison. Along the way you collect the pages of a mysterious manual, which of course teaches you much more than the individual game mechanics. Your adventure begins…
What do you think awaits you at the top of this tower?
© ISOMETRICORP Games Ltd.
Tunic remains cryptic throughout the 15 hours of playtime. While the individual pages of the manual provide meaningful illustrations of the backstory of the game world, your own initiative is required to fully understand them. Here, the action-adventure resembles From Software’s games, which rely on an equally vague story style. Yet you always feel like you are part of something big, a real heroic saga. On the other hand, if you want to listen to a clearly told story, Tunic may cause problems for you because there is nothing to understand here.
Tunic’s gameplay consists of exploration, occasional puzzles and exciting combat. Armed only with a stick at first, your inventory will fill with other items as the game progresses, giving you advantages or even allowing you to explore new parts of the manageable game world. Tunic is therefore often reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda. Not only does your hero’s clothing evoke memories of the brave Hylian Link, but the ever-expanding environment also serves as a parallel. If you had to turn around in a dungeon before because you couldn’t see a meter through the darkness, the cave system can be easily passed later with your new lantern. But the pages of the manual mentioned at the beginning also provide important tips that are essential for progress. Tunic appeals to your urge to discover and motivates you to go on a journey of discovery yourself with the help of individual fragments of information. The game world creates some incentives for this in the form of treasure chests, the contents of which vary. Sometimes you will find consumables, sometimes offers and very often money, which you can spend at the monstrous dealer, among other things. It doesn’t matter that the quest for the next milestone in your journey sometimes leaves you wandering haphazardly.
The deeper you descend, the more bizarre the environment becomes.
© ISOMETRICORP Games Ltd.
While the general exploration is equivalent to The Legend of Zelda, the combat system once again uses the work of From Software. In addition to a three-part punch combo, your character masters a quick dodge roll, which allows you to gracefully dodge enemy blows. The stick mentioned above soon gives way to a sword, which is later expanded with a shield, which you can use to block or even parry most enemy attacks, taking into account your stamina bar. Magic also comes into play and can be used in battle if you have the right items. The bottom line is that the arguments are solidly played, but not nearly as merciless as the template. Once you die – and you will die – you will lose a small amount of your money and start over at the last shrine. These altars can be found all over the game world and serve as reset points or opportunities for offers to improve your skills. After that, if you go to the place of death, you can put the lost money back into your own pocket. If you die again along the way, the coal is gone.
If you don’t feel like that penalty, you can use the options menu under the “Accessibility” menu item to adjust the game’s difficulty to your liking. There you can, for example, deactivate the consumption of stamina, request puzzle support or even outsmart death with a tick. It’s better that you enjoy the game on your own terms than let certain design decisions dictate it. The many shortcuts that can be unlocked anywhere counteract the frustration, as they drastically shorten the walking distances between the shrine and the place of death. Overall, the challenge is decent despite a few peaks, most of which involve boss fights.
A feast for the eyes despite the half frame rate
Graphically, Tunic also cuts a damn fine figure on the Nintendo Switch. The optics have their own style and shine with a simple but effective presentation. Whether in a wooded environment, ruins, rocky mountain slopes or futuristic vaults: Tunic combines all this in a harmonious game world without letting any seams shine through. A sophisticated play of light and shadow further refines the presentation and creates memorable images. However, in terms of frame rate, players will have to settle for 30 instead of the original 60 frames per second, which is bearable given the stability. The resolution is also lower than on the other platforms, but this is not really noticeable given the simple graphic style. Tunic runs smoothly and flawlessly in both mobile and stationary modes on the Nintendo Switch. Musically you can also expect an atmospheric total package that combines electronic synthesizer sounds with harmonious piano runs and can also be heard well outside the game.