Platforms : PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Nostalgia (especially within the gaming industry) has always been a double-edged sword. When pleasant memories of the old days get right into the heart, projects stylized as “old times” sometimes give a whole range of vivid emotions. At the same time, many developers often go too far when it comes to nostalgic curtsy: sometimes deliberately, sometimes through negligence. Still, in pursuit of the past, it is easy to forget about the present. Some games are so eager to evoke timeless classics that the result is that their creators simply don’t have time for their own ideas – if they ever had any.
TUNIC is located somewhere between these two extremes. You only need to look at the screenshots once to unmistakably recognize her main source of inspiration: the first parts of The Legend of Zelda are those that came out on early Nintendo consoles . Moreover, the obvious similarities are not at all limited to the isometric camera alone. The little fox hero explores the mysterious island in search of three magical artifacts, solves the mysteries of the dungeons, defeats formidable bosses… The only thing missing is the old man in the cave who would hand over the sword with the words “it’s dangerous to go alone”. With the exception of a simple combat system, where everything is tied to timing and stamina management (hello Dark Souls), the author of the game, Andrew Sholdis, created an almost perfect remake of the original The Legend of Zelda with a modern twist. It seems to be a toy, but unexpectedly large-scale and strikingly colorful adventure, full of carefully hidden secrets and surprises. After just an hour of play, it becomes clear why the solo developer spent as many as six years on the project: this quality of development really takes time.
The nuance is that TUNIC evokes warm memories not so much about The Legend of Zelda, but about childhood in general. About the time when each new game was perceived as a big event, and to go through difficult fragments, you had to leave notes in the margins or call someone older (in my case, most often my mother). All the text in the game, from road signs to the names of items in the inventory, is written in a fictitious language: although occasionally there are individual words in English, the meaning of most phrases will still have to be figured out empirically – or even guessed from the context. As in childhood, when the letters seemed just incomprehensible squiggles. Moreover, fragments of pages from the actual instruction book are scattered all over the island. like the one that came with real copies of Zelda and many other boxed editions. In some places, you can even find notes left by the previous owner on them: on one page, he will carefully indicate the traps waiting in the dark tunnel, on the other, he will partially solve a difficult puzzle. While the brave little fox is saving the world, you collect new pages, and thanks to them you will learn more and more about mechanics, lore and other details.
Thanks to these little things, TUNIC beats the traditional ideas of the genre in a completely unusual way. Fresh, sincere, without rose-colored glasses. The game can be blamed for the lack of its own identity, but Andrew Sholdis perfectly conveyed the unforgettable experience that this era of retro gaming is remembered for. And while TUNIC offers nothing new in terms of gameplay, the journey of several evenings is absolutely worth it – at least for the sake of the childish, uncomplicated joy of discovery.
Platforms : PC, PS4, Xbox One
But about Weird West , unfortunately, I personally can’t say anything good. Although, again, the first details about the project sounded curious: the debut of the Arkane Studios team led by Rafael Colantonio promised to be interesting. A mystical western in a living open world that reacts to the player’s decisions, and even performed by recognized masters of the immersive sim genre, it’s hard to pass by such an intriguing advertisement. In part, Weird West even fulfills these beautiful promises … The only pity is that playing it is still insanely boring. So boring that instead of a full review, I decided to write about it only a small heading in the heading: there is practically nothing to talk about.
First of all, if you suddenly expected something in the spirit of Arkane Studios from Weird West, then it’s better to immediately lower the bar of expectations: this is not an immersive sim, but a completely uncomplicated top-down shooter. The interactivity of the environment here is limited mainly by exploding barrels and all sorts of useless little things like the ability to bury any corpse that catches your eye (spoiler: there is absolutely no need to do this) or build a pyramid of boxes. I wouldn’t pick on details like that, but the problem is that Weird West’s gameplay feels monstrously budget-friendly, if not cheap. Moreover, it is difficult to single out what exactly went wrong: one gets the impression that everything is in general.
For as many as five (!) story campaigns, the game offers to do exactly the same thing: extremely clumsy skirmishes, from which even with great desire it is difficult to enjoy. I tried, but the authors have collected a full bingo of typical problems – from a crooked isometric camera to poor hit registration, disgusting enemy AI and location design. Sometimes, Weird West’s mechanics really allow you to get cunning: for example, shoot an oil lantern over the heads of some bandits or detonate dynamite right in the opponent’s hand. Such moments of improvisation look great, but in practice they happen very rarely – in the vast majority of situations, going for some kind of tactical tricks is either unprofitable or inconvenient. As a result, the passage of each next story is not much different from the previous one, although the player will happen to be in the role of characters completely different in nature. An old bounty hunter, a Native American, a cult neophyte, a werewolf, even a real manbearpig all play more or less the same.
Writers WolfEye StudiosWeird West’s lore has been adequately worked out: it doesn’t go too far beyond the standard clichés for the “weird westerns” genre, but it still looks original. Petty bandits can make trade alliances with cannibal monsters and trade hostages for smuggling. Witches kidnap lost men, sew pig heads on them and send them to wander aimlessly in the swamps as punishment for carnal sins. The gold rush may not be a figure of speech, but a real disease caused by the spirit of greed. I want to find out more about all this, but the narratives in Weird West are, in fact, regrettably small: only short nondescript dialogues and familiar diaries. The stories of the heroes are completely unmemorable, and you can’t find any bright characters in the vastness of the strange West either. The world around is indeed changing, but the player does not care about this:
Quite possibly, my expectations were a little high, but Weird West even looks mediocre even in the budget indie segment, to put it mildly. An interesting setting does not draw on dreary gameplay with rare glimpses of unusual ideas. If you believe in Colantonio and his team to the last, then you can try, but … To begin with, I would advise you to take a closer look at Hard West . The lack of resources and experience did not prevent its authors from creating a solid (though not ideal) tactical strategy, where everything is revealed as it should: both western and mysticism.