◉ ◉ ◉ ◉ ○(4/5: great)
Playstation 5
Finji (2022)
A love letter to the 8-bit era action-adventure games of our youth.

Okay, everyone's comparing this game to the NES Zeldas, which makes total sense after you find the cover of the in-game manual or notice that our main character has a Zelda costume on. However, I think it is more a tribute to the whole experience of NES action-adventure games rather than a close comparison to the early Zelda offerings. Modern techniques and style are used to capture the same spirit of exploration and growth as you hack and slash and magic your way through a slew of enemies. With the addition of the cryptic language and the pieces of the manual that "tell" you about the secrets of the world, the whole game becomes a nostalgic dream of those bygone days of sitting in a basement room decorated in too many shades of brown but living in pixelated 8-bit lands of pure imagination. Probably even more so if you imported a Japanese-language game and tried to read the manual even though you did not read Japanese.

It truly is a wonderful experience for those of us of the golden (well, maybe greying) 8-bit generation. Mostly. I found myself either too impatient or too uncoordinated to bump this up to legendary status. For example, I would constantly underestimate the reach of my sword or stick. I also spent a number of minutes just wandering, looking for what I was supposed to be doing. My -- potentially self-inflicted -- frustrations led me to get to that place in game where you "just want to finish" which takes the experience down a bit.

To avoid frustration, I started turning to the internet's collective resources instead of flipping through the in-game booklet after I had retrieved a crystal (or maybe two). Perhaps this wasn't the intended way to play this puzzler but it does kind of fit into the experience, right? Some of the ways to find treasures or unlock secrets were so obscure or complex that it would take the collective work of a number of folks to discover the solutions to them all. Maybe this is the game's multiplayer mode? Whatever the intent, if you 100% this game without looking anything up... kudos to you.

In the end, Tunic is a stellar game that's just a bit too frustrating for me to cherish forever like some of those old NES games.

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Last updated: 05/04/2024
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