This launched last week on Xbox, Windows and Mac, and it's on Game Pass. I thought it looked unremarkable but worth a shot, but then it basically took over my whole weekend...
It feels like a fusion of: 1. Zelda 1 - Top-down presentation, combat and exploration focus, few special gadgets/abilities or puzzles that require them 2. Fez - Ethereal modern-retro presentation, lots of (mostly optional) brain-scratchers and secrets where pen and paper can help 3. Dark Souls - No-frills and punishing combat, really tough bosses, bonfires heal you and respawn all enemies
So if those float your boat, I definitely recommend it.
I'm at the final boss (I think?) and it destroyed me a dozen times or so, so now I'm focusing on hunting down secrets, which I find more fun anyway.
Octorockin notified me of this when it hit GamePass and with having a rough work week I decided to just start playing it to unwind last Friday. With my wife feeling ill all weekend we didn't end up doing anything of note. So I just played all weekend. I managed to beat it over a 48 hour span but I probably put a good 10-12 hours into it. I didn't 100% it by any means but I was probably around 80% completion on items and such.
To reference the OP, I like Zelda 1 a lot. Those mechanics work for me and I think they fit here as a description. Fez, I can see the comparison. I never completed Fez but I do understand it a bit. Dark Souls... I have always been averse to that descriptor and what comes with it. However I mostly like how it was implemented here. Things felt pretty fair (like putting bonfires before bosses so you don't have to back-track much). There's a lot of consideration in this game to make the game feel fair. I don't know if I love Dark Souls gameplay or anything but I am respecting it more and more. Death's Door earlier this year also helped there.
I thought the game was fantastically built in the world, premise, and scope. I will go as far to say that I LOVED this game. I do wish that some of the in-game text that's in another language would have converted to English as you discovered things on your own or made progress (in the manual mainly). But alas, it wasn't a deal breaker.
However there was truly one singular issue I had with this game. I'd recommend beating the game before reviewing the spoiler text. Had I known this detail ahead of time, I still would have wanted to play and loved playing it so it's not like that.
I just didn't like the original ending. There's the normal ending and then there's a 'True Ending' and I kind of think it's lame when games do this. As I have so much more to play I didn't opt to try and see the True Ending in the game, rather I watched via YouTube. It's not particularly different but the core ending you'd get by beating the game first is just so anti-climactic and meaningless. It's got that, 'ooh, you're in a loop now so this was all for nothing and yet all for everything' premise to it. That 'twist' if you can call it that just feels like a bad trope at this point. The 'True Ending' should have been the original ending IMO.
I do wish that some of the in-game text that's in another language would have converted to English as you discovered things on your own or made progress (in the manual mainly).
I actually assumed that's what was happening at first, because I felt like I was understanding so much more of it easier as it went. But really it's just context clues from the pictures and the few English words it gives you. I had fun piecing those bits together for myself. Of course, you can figure out the language for yourself based on hints in the manual...not me though, I'm not that smart or patient. All I could figure out on my own was that the word "the" is two up arrows on top of each other, haha. As far as I can tell, the only tangible reward for doing the translation is one Secret Item, otherwise translation is just for reading the lore in the manual and doing the puzzles people are sleuthing outside of the game itself.
As for your issue with the game, I like the concept in general, and I think this game pulled it off better than most. Maybe it's because I pick and choose games very selectively anymore, only playing a few dozen short ones at most each year, but I'm a big fan of the whole Short Ending / Long Ending deal. Getting to the Short Ending lets players who feel satisfied with the game at that point see some credits and give themselves permission to turn it off and play something else. And then players who feel like they want to continue to master the game have a little more story content to reward them as they go.
And in Tunic the alternatives are clearly spelled out in the manual and achieved through alternative means consistent with their outcomes. The bad ending is achieved with conquering a big crazy boss fight, which serves as a capstone to a game that had been mostly focused on combat to that point. Do the "violence" ending to continue the cycle of violence. Whereas the good ending is achieved with a sizable effort of exploration and puzzle solving, breaking the cycle of violence by embracing a search for wisdom to share.
What's funny is, I accidentally locked myself out of getting the "bad" ending and had to watch it on YouTube. I knew I wanted to get Ending B because it was obviously the better alternative (and I'd really enjoyed the few optional puzzles I'd already solved), so I decided to explore and find all of the Instruction Booklet pages before deciding to go back and confront the final boss one way or another. Well, after you get all the pages, you can't fight the final boss, you can only give them the booklet and trigger the "true" ending.
Though in all honesty, I didn't find either ending to be all that satisfying, and I was probably more disappointed by the "true" ending. The "bad" is a bummer, but it feels consistent with the story told to that point. The "true" ending ignores the eldritch horrors lurking in the shadowy corners of the world and just says "they lived happily ever after." I guess they're either saving that stuff for a sequel/DLC, or possibly just leaving them as extremely hidden content for people to uncover and debate their meaning.
But yeah, I avoided consulting the internet for answers, aside from two things I had to look up at the very end. One I was looking for in the right place, but it was kind of wonky so I'm not surprised an hour of searching was fruitless. And the other is the Secret Item I mentioned in the spoilers, which I just wasn't going to get on my own. Other than those, I felt really good about getting all of the optional puzzle stuff on my own (over the course of a whopping 30 hours), and that it was very fair and rewarding. For me, The Door In The Mountain was the game's final boss, and what's on the other side cements that feeling.
Would you advise I bother going through The Door in the Mountain?
When I finished the game it said I was missing only two pages in the booklet. I was surprised I was so close. I have no idea where I'd go to start looking though.
You make a good point about the ending there. The fact that neither explains why they're shoving some kind of fox souls into those pillars is actually a bit of a let down for me too in hindsight. Though it was quite rewarding in a sad way to realize that when activated, it's almost like those things are screaming in agony as they do so. Truly dark stuff.
@DrFinkelstein I really enjoyed opening The Door in the Mountain personally, but it depends on your appetite for scouring the booklet for clues and interpreting their meaning. Everything you need is in there. If there are pictures you still don't understand after finishing the game, many of those are related to the Door in the Mountain.
And of course if you're super stumped I'm available to provide hints as vague or specific as you want! If you have the booklet page opposite the drawing of Fox Link sitting stumped at the Door in the Mountain (I think you should, given you're missing only two and I'm guessing I know which ones), that's the logical starting place.
I started this a couple days ago and am about 5 hours in. I'm really enjoying it so far. In particular I love the in-game instruction manual and how it provides just enough info to allow you to figure a lot of stuff out on your own.
This game was announced a long time ago, and having played Death's Door earlier in the year I can't help but feel that game ended up beating Tunic to the punch as being sort of this classic top-down Zelda-but-isometric game with some obvious Souls influences. Death's Door was good, though I do think I'm liking Tunic a bit more thus far because it does lean a bit closer to old school Zelda than DD did. That said, it will definitely be easy to draw direct comparisons between the two games.
If I have one notable issue so far, it's the soundtrack. The music isn't bad in and of itself, but it doesn't really seem to fit this game. Especially the overworld theme, considering the overworld feels heavily inspired by the first few Zelda games (especially TLoZ). It's one area where I think DD really excelled.
Really anxious to read all of the spoiler text in this thread! Soon, hopefully.
I finished this over the weekend. Came up two achievements short (they're missable ones that I'd need to replay the game to get, so I'm content to just walk away).
I'm proud to say I only looked up three things at the very end, and solved everything else on my own. There's some really, really brilliant stuff involving how the instruction manual can be used. The Door In The Mountain was probably the high point of the game, and there's an interesting argument to be made about what was the more satisfying moment - the moment when you realize what the "golden path" is and how you're supposed to solve it, and then the act of actually putting the puzzle together and opening the door.
I was able to solve that and the 20 fairy puzzles without looking anything up. Some of the ones that had me stumped weren't particularly difficult, and it's uncanny how often something will click after I go do something else and return to it later. The three things I needed to look up a hint for were all secret treasures:
1 - Secret Treasure #2 in the Cathedral. This one was just a straight-up miss on my part. I just didn't notice the secret passage in the room with the books, and in hindsight I should have spotted it. I knew there was a secret passage *somewhere* in the Cathedral, but the Cathedral map was super wonky as well and I was convinced it was somewhere in the room with the purple/pink lava stuff. This wasn't too tough to solve once I knew where to go.
2 - Secret Treasure #4 - "Vintage". This is the one that I never would have solved on my own. This one was a bit more obtuse than any of the other puzzles in the game, and even once you figured out where you needed to go, it would still be very time-consuming to ultimately translate all of that text and solve the puzzle. I had no qualms about looking this one up!
3 - Secret Treasure #8 with the wind chimes. I have a bit of a beef with this one, as right next to the musical key on the Ruined Atoll map page, there's a sketch of one of those birds being startled, so I assumed it was relevant to the solution (or was at least related to the musical notes in some way). I had made the connection between the Old House and the Ruined Atoll via the musical notes, so I figured they were referencing the bed in the Old House allowing you to return to the Ruined Atoll, where I spent close to an hour trying to herd the four birds into the same area to see if something would happen. *Sigh* If it wasn't for that bird drawing I probably would have figured this one out without any help. Alas, it wasn't too tough once I knew it had to do with the wind chimes.
@nate38@DrFinkelstein I'm kinda with you guys on the story stuff. For me, I didn't get too invested in it because it felt so much like what has become a really common videogame plot - between Dark Souls, Hollow Knight, and other games of their ilk. "Ok, I'm going to defeat the sealed lord, "link the flame" and then become sealed and the cycle repeats. Yeah, I have an idea where this is going." I do feel that's gotten a bit tiresome (especially after Elden Ring had basically the same plot as the previous Souls games).
Having played Death's Door only 3 games ago, I had a lot of moments playing Tunic where I'd be going through an area and something would remind me of an area in Death's Door and I'd get a bit mixed up, haha. Definitely two games with a hell of a lot in common. If ranking them solely on their merits as isometic, classic Zelda-like Souls-like games, I think I would give the edge to Death's Door. But the other stuff in Tunic with all of the late-game secrets puts it above DD for me personally. It goes without saying that Tunic jumped way up in my eyes once you're presented with the Holy Cross and everything that is suddenly revealed as a result. Both games are absolutely well worth playing, though!
Wow, yours ended up way cleaner than mine. You made the right choice going with graph paper!
We're very much of the same mind on this game: my two favorite moments were understanding the final puzzle, and solving it. And I too had to look up two things, which were your #1 and #2 spoilers. And while I didn't look up your #3, I also was led astray for a while in the same way you were. Plus, once I ruled out that red herring, I still had a hard time because it seems I'm fairly tone-deaf...I had a really hard time discerning if the eighths were rising or falling, and the timing often seemed inconsistent to me as well.
Ha, to be fair what you're seeing is my second draft. First pass was a bit sloppy and things didn't quite line up as they should.
For that 3rd puzzle I still had to go into the menu and turn down all of the volume sliders except sound effects to be able to make out the individual notes. Even with that, I think it fools with you a bit because I don't think it's the exact same notes each time it loops. I think the key is just determining whether the notes are ascending or descending, if they are two of the same notes, or two different simultaneous notes. The pattern is always the same, but the notes change so it's a little confusing.
I'm a huge Zelda 1 fan and play it pretty much every year, so this game would be right up my alley then? I don't have Xbox, but if I had to guess, I'd say this probably has a good chance coming to the Switch if/when the timed exclusive thing is up.
Bump. I picked this up on Switch to play over Thanksgiving break and I'm having a good time! The instruction manual pages are the most rewarding things to find because they all help you peel away the different layers of mystery involved in the game. I've played plenty of titles with exploration and discovery to them, but Tunic is unique in that the game's own mechanics (and the way the world works) are puzzles in and of themselves. It's always so satisfying being made aware of a latent ability I'd always possessed thanks to the pages. "Hold this button and..." "Press this button at this object and..."
As such, I'm doing my best not to read ANY hints online, as that's a major selling point of the game.
As a longtime old-school gamer, it's a rather fascinating experience altogether. They really nailed that feeling of trying to work your way through a complicated game piece by piece, like when I'd get in over my head with a rental and had to just figure out the way the game worked through poorly Xeroxed manual pages from the rental store. It also reminds me of playing imported games and powering through the dialogue.
If I had any complaints, it's that the world and gameplay feel a little dense and combat-heavy. Most of my favorite adventures have more of an ebb and flow to the pacing where you have these havens of safety (usually in the form of towns) as some downtime between all the down-and-dirty adventuring. I also feel like the music is too subdued and synthesized for a game supposedly heavily inspired by Zelda 1 (which features dynamic and melodic music throughout). I'm eager to play more though, it's a very neat game.
@TriforceBun I haven't played this yet but I'm glad to see more games lately encouraging the player to figure things out on their own, to an extent. This is something I remember feeling like it really dropped off during the Gamecube era, where mandatory tutorials were all over the place. Say what you will about the Souls games, but I think they were a pretty important step in a more "hands off" style of gameplay returning. I remember playing Breath of the Wild, and it was such a breath of fresh air for Zelda, no pun intended. Not since the SNES did I feel like "Oh wow, the game is letting me figure this stuff out on my own." It was like learning another language. From everything I'm hearing about Tunic, I'm definitely going to have to give it a go at some point.