The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Episode 2 - Steam Early Access - First Look by Greg Collins
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Episode 2 - Steam Early Access - First Look by Greg Collins
The second Episode of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Early Access was released on Oct 2nd. Greg Collins shares his impressions in this First Look.
Posted: 10/10/14 | Category: Review | Developer: KING Art | Publisher: Nordic Games | Platform:

The second Episode of the forthcoming Book of Unwritten Tales 2 came out, as promised, promptly on October 2. It downloaded smoothly to my Steam application and I was able to pick up the game right where I left off. Well, in a sense.

My only other experience with episodic gaming has been with Season 3 of Sam & Max, and Wallace and Gromit, both courtesy of Telltale a few years back. The chapters in each of the Telltale games were entirely self-contained.

These BoUT2 episodes are really just chopped up fifths of the overall game. Ergo, the splices are more abrupt. As I explained in my review of Episode One, this is more of an experimental, slo-mo beta release. The real game, in its unbugged entirety, won’t come out until (they say) next January.

If you will recall, Episode One contained two parts — the first starring the elf princess Ivo and the second starring the gnome (or whatever vertically-challenged fantasy subspecies he is) Wilbur. Now, in Episode Two, we switch back in time and space to catch up with the doings of those other heroes, Nate and Critter. They’re on some floating buccaneer island negotiating with a boozy individual called the Red Pirate. After their best efforts there work out disastrously, the game again cuts, cinematically, to pick up Wilbur’s continuing adventures in Seastone. Wilbur, too, is having a tough go of it, facing not one but a number of adversaries, including the sudden reappearance of an arch-enemy from the first BoUT.

The story (along with the characters and dialogue) is one of the best parts of these games, so I don’t wish to serve up too much here. The puzzles in the first episode weren’t bad, but they take a turn for the worse, or at least for the easy, in this new episode. At their best, the puzzles remind you, like the gorgeous graphics and the screwy story shenanigans, of the heyday of LucasArts, in particular the Monkey Island series. I have yet to encounter an “Ah-ha!” moment in any of the three BoUT games to date. As with every other game producer in recent years, they’ve learned it’s economically foolhardy nowadays to challenge players. “Casual” gaming has become the golden rule, alas.

So far, then, this third BoUT entry is a very handsome and well-made interactive storybook game. You just proceed methodically through all the available dialogue and inventory options and, as they slowly dwindle in number, you safely arrive at the desired end. Fortunately, as I say, the characters are well-drawn, the story is well-constructed (at least so far) and the dialogue (though still at times a tad too much) is well-voiced and entertaining.

My technological troubles from the first Episode continued, but if you have a fairly recent or beefy computer I don’t think you need worry about that. It has been my fate for the entirety of my adventure game-playing life to have almost always had either too feeble a machine or too robust a one to play the game in question without hiccups. Plus, of course, these “early release” episodes are not the finished product to begin with.

There is, in the new episode, a story emphasis on the social haves and have-nots of Seastone that recalls the recent worldwide debates over the financial crash of a half-dozen years ago. The game, or at least Wilbur, comes down firmly on the side of the have-nots, boldly extolling a “share the wealth” argument. Which means the game designers have not the slightest qualm of antagonizing the half of their customers who are, presumably, ardent political conservatives; but are petrified of upsetting the far greater bulk of their customers who dread genuinely challenging gameplay. Of course, the game is still “under development,” so it will be most interesting to see if the politics of the game are one of the elements which, based on the feedback from the early release process, undergoes alteration. Stay tuned.

Specials from Digital Download
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