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The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 – Review

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 – Review

The Book of Unwritten Tales saga has, by now, seriously begun to rival some of those great old adventure series that it so faithfully echoes.


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The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Episode 1 – September 14, 2014
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Episode 2 – October 10, 2014
The Book of Unwritten Tales 3 Episode 3 – November 15, 2014
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Episode 4 – December 22 2014

Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure

The wait is over, boys and girls. On February 20th, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 was officially released to the public at large. For folks like me, however, who have been playing a sort of alpha/beta version of the game piecemeal for the past five months, what this signals is the arrival of the fifth and final installment of Steam’s early access version of the game.

At long last I was able to play through a portion of TBoUT2 without encountering any major glitches. Oh, there are still a few minor bugs to trip over, such as mismatched voice and text and the occasional absence of the voice altogether. But nothing like what we faced in parts 1-4.

For those who have been following along these past five months, I can tell you that the game’s last two segments (before the brief big bang finale) find Wilbur the gnome and his Zombie and rat pals searching for a mystical book of spells in an old forest, and later, in an old castle. Even at this late date the gamemakers are introducing brand new characters, including a Daisy Mae bimbo fortune hunter, a charming Count named Vlad (wink, wink) and a paranoid purveyor of role-playing game merchandise.

Finally, the action wraps up back in Seastone, where Wilbur and company face their main nemesis, Munkus. Well, some of the action wraps up, at least. Lots of the game’s plot remains unresolved at the end, leaving me, for one, still hanging a bit uncomfortably over that last cliff. That the game sets up an obvious sequel at the end is a given. The first two games in the series did the same. This is a money-making enterprise, after all. But usually the general idea is to tie up the events of the present adventure and then hint at plot complications to come. I don’t want to give too much away, but at least two, and possibly three, characters remain dead or unaccounted for, and two mortal enemies remain at large. Also, and I don’t think this is giving anything away, Ivo remains pregnant. That’s just a wee bit too much to leave unresolved at the end of a long, complex story. Especially in a world where the next game in a series is not always a given. (Check out the lag time between the last two Tex Murphy games, for instance.)

The time has come, however, for me to wrap up and, at long last, assess The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 as a whole. This game is just as well-produced — graphics, writing, music, you name it — as the first two games of the series. They probably never will top the impact of that first game, where everything seemed so new (except for the deluge of cultural references), but I did think this one actually had a better, more interesting, more coherent plot. This game is also probably funnier and better written, with deeper and more involving characters than the first two games. It’s true I never really felt any sense of danger or drama, even in the handful of “action” scenes, but I don’t think that’s a drawback. It’s difficult to sustain heart-pounding drama over so long a story, especially one in which the main attractions are humor and character development. I certainly do hope they produce that next game in the series although I will pass on the “early access” invitation. I’ve learned my lesson and will sit quietly with my hands folded until the polished game is released.

It’s also time to announce that the Book of Unwritten Tales saga has, by now, seriously begun to rival some of those great old adventure series that it so faithfully echoes. TBoUT particularly recalls the famed LucasArts Monkey Island  series with its mixture of comedy, fantasy and far-flung adventuring. The one aspect of those great old games that TBoUT doesn’t copy is the puzzling. Oh, it has similar quest and dialog and even logic puzzles, but they’re all safely in the modern “you can’t possibly go wrong for long” mode. I mean, God forbid a player of a modern adventure get stuck on a puzzle for more than a nanosecond or two. Horrors!

As I said about the very first Book of Unwritten Tales, everything about this game is top-notch and deserves an A. Except, of course, the puzzles, which retain the form of old-style puzzling without the genuine mental challenge. The only caveat I’m musing over right now is whether or not the complete game runs as smoothly as part 5 does. I’m assuming they’ve ironed out all the glitches from the first four “early access” portions. Well, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. What’s more, there’s now an “Ultra” in the settings panel. This apparently is a level of graphic magnificence even higher than “High.” Not that I’d know. My laptop could never scale such Olympian altitudes.

Finally, the grade. I suppose it isn’t fair to take off points for lack of challenge in this day and age when practically everyone prefers games that are a walk in the park. But of course, there’s also the issue of that odd, unsatisfying ending. Really, it boils down to this: If you love story, humor and character most in an adventure, then you will love The Book of Unwritten Tales 2; but if you most cherish clever puzzling, as I do, you will be mostly underwhelmed. In my book, that adds up to an A minus.

Grade: A- 

Grand old-style adventuring in a gorgeous fantasy world
Engaging characters in a interesting story
Excellent voice work (aka, English localization)
Rich humor in both dialog and situations
– A few decent puzzles but overall too easy
– Ending too abrupt and unsatisfying
– Still some minor technical glitches
– Politics may rub you the wrong way


System Requirements

OS: Windows XP SP3/Vista/7/8 
Processor: 2.0 GHz CPU 
Memory: 2 GB RAM 
Graphics: DirectX 9c compatible graphics card with 512 MB RAM and PixelShader 3.0 
DirectX: Version 9.0c 
Hard Drive: 13 GB available space 
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible

OS: OS X Version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3 
Processor: 2.0 GHz CPU 
Memory: 2 GB RAM 
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8 Series or higher/ATI X1600 or higher (Pixel Shader 3.0) 
Hard Drive: 13 GB available space 
Additional Notes: Compatible with MacBook Air 2013


Greg Collins

Greg Collins

JA reviewer, and occasional opiner, since 2006.

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