Mon. Jun 17th, 2024
Tunic title

Ah, this game. I’ve been obsessed with Tunic ever since I first saw it during E3 way back in 2017. I thought that it would only be a matter of time until I was able to buy it, and yet, 3 years later, we still don’t even have a release date. I was lucky enough to attend Xbox Fanfest in 2019. Not only was it a phenomenal event populated with some of the biggest names in the industry, but it also had several game demos available to play, one of which was Tunic. And now, for one week only, a demo is available for people to play as part of Summer Game Fest. Not being fully sated just by watching the E3 showcases, I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in some upcoming games. And so, here are my first impressions of the Tunic demo.

Gameplay

You play as an adorable little fox, and you find yourself waking up on an island. Surrounded by stone architecture and crude bushes, it’s your job to explore the area, finding new places to go as you gain better weapons and find new items such as keys. Although set in a 3D world, you move on a 2D plane, using stairs and ladders to move elevations, and there’s no jump button. However, although as a gamer I’ve become accustomed to being able to jump in action-adventure games, it doesn’t detract from the experience of Tunic. You very quickly adjust to the controls, and the movement itself is very smooth. Aside from being able to move in any direction around yourself, you can also roll, either to move forward more quickly, or to dodge enemies.

First impressions Tunic demo
A cute little note you find when you spawn into the game.

You find weapons throughout the game, and assign them to buttons using the inventory menu. That way you can choose whichever button feels most intuitive to you. In the demo, the best weapon available is the sword (at least as far as I could tell). There are also chests which contain various items, although it’s not always clear exactly what all of them do. You use these weapons and items to help defeat the many enemies that you come across on your journey. Some are tougher than others, and they have different methods of attacking. I found the ones that shoot projectiles to be the toughest, as you have to get close to them in order to fight back. You collect orange gems from defeating enemies, but those aren’t used during the demo. I assume they can be redeemed for items at some point in the full game.

Tunic demo item allocation
My very first weapon… A stick! I chose to assign it to the X button.

Exploring the Map

Much as I adore this game, if we’re talking strictly about my first impressions of the Tunic demo, then I was frustrated that they don’t provide a mini map to check your progress. Navigation has never been my strong suit, and I’d have liked that visual aid. Having said that, the game is mostly linear, and so it’s easy enough to keep track of where you need to go. You’re able to explore in many directions, but some areas are closed off, at least temporarily. You’re able to access more areas once you collect the sword, as you’re then able to chop down trees. It’s important to remember where you’ve come from, as you may need to retrace your steps if you’re killed. When you die, you respawn at the most recent shrine you visited, and you have to return to your death spot to reclaim your gems.

Tunic demo enemies
Using a telescope to survey all the enemies I’ll have to fight.

Speaking of shrines, these are monuments that can be found throughout your journey. By interacting with them, you can restore your health, but it also revives any enemies that you killed. Shrines are a convenient way of replenishing yourself before a fight, especially if the fight is in a different direction to the rest of the enemies. You don’t want to have to keep fighting the same enemy, although that does get you more gems. There were only 3 that I came across in the demo, and so they’re spaced relatively far apart.

Tunic demo shrine
When you see glowing blue eyes, you know something means business.

The Final Dungeon

There’s an area that’s quite well hidden, and I call it ‘the final dungeon’ as the demo finishes once you’ve beaten it. However, it’s possible that there’s another dungeon available in the demo too. I confess, there’s one area that I didn’t access as I was unable to beat the boss defending the entrance. Fighting isn’t my forte, and so I expect I’ll be facing quite a battle in the full game. Anyway, back to the dungeon I was telling you about!

It’s set in a watery, underground lair, with enemies that explode when you kill them! You need to quickly dodge out of the way after dealing the deadly blow, or BOOM goes your health bar! The layout is really clever, as you can create shortcuts for yourself once you’ve beaten a certain section. I used this to my advantage by revisiting the shrine every time I unlocked a shortcut. That meant I could skip areas without taking damage from the enemies.

Map of the dungeon
Found this useful note midway through the dungeon. It’s a shame I couldn’t take it with me.

There are some cool items in this dungeon, including a shield, and potions that you can drink to replenish your health. The potions aren’t one-time use, but you can’t reuse them until you visit a shrine. There was also a one-time use item that looked like some kind of potion, but I’m not sure what it was for. There are several enemies scattered throughout the dungeon, and it’s a tricky challenge. Once you defeat it, you move through to a new area, and the demo ends.

Graphics and Audio

First impressions of the Tunic demo? This game is beautiful. The assets have a lovely aesthetic, simultaneously blocky yet smoothly rendered. The result is a very deliberate nostalgic style that still feels modern. It’s a style which channels the charm of retro games, whilst still taking full advantage of the technological progress that has been made since then. The texture of the world is unique, and unlike other games. It makes you feel immediately immersed in the game. The objects move when you interact with them, such as bushes swaying when you walk through, which is nice.

There are two bars displayed in the corner of the screen, one red, one green. The red bar depicts your remaining health, and the green represents energy. It’s a useful thing to be able to glance at to check how you’re doing for health. The bars are nice and large, and so you don’t have to squint to figure out where they’re at. An interesting thing about Tunic is that all the items and signs are in a weird runic text. I suppose it fits with the ambience of the game, but it means you can’t actually read the words. I wonder whether there’ll be an item later in the game that allows you to translate it?

Audio-wise, the game doesn’t deliver anything fancy. The music is peppy, yet relaxing, and is nice and easy to listen to. It stays the same throughout each section, though, and doesn’t change in tone when you’re in combat, for example. Enemies do make understated sound effects, and I actually like that it’s not too in-your-face. The music certainly isn’t something that’ll capture the experience of the game, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s there as background noise whilst the gameplay and graphics do the talking.

Opening chests
I got some pretty cool items from opening all these chests!

Overall

On the whole, my first impressions of the Tunic demo were overwhelmingly positive. The game is incredibly addictive, and everything about it feels well-made. It’s beyond impressive that it was created by a one-man team, and it’s understandable that it’s taking so long to come out. Although we don’t yet have a release date, it’s optimistically scheduled for 2021. I’d love to see it come out by Christmas, as I think it would make a great gift for people. I personally cannot wait to play the full version of this! If you’re looking for a game to play, why not enter the giveaway to win a copy of Sonic Mania?

Tunic

9.2

Verdict

9.2/10

Pros

  • Fun and immersive gameplay
  • Beautiful graphics
  • Smooth movement
  • Exploration is enjoyable

Cons

  • No mini-map
  • It doesn't give item details
  • I still have to wait to play this amazing game!

By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)