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Tunic: The Perfect Blend of Zelda Nostalgia and Souls-like Challenge

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Jordan Jurkowski
| June 17, 2024
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I am a huge gamer who likes to try new things frequently and expand my horizons. However, life gets busy, and so many games come out; it can be hard to keep track of them all throughout the years, so of course, I have missed some releases. 

One of those missed releases was Tunic back in 2022. 

Tunic is available on PC, Switch, Playstation & Xbox Series. It should also be noted that I binged this within a ten hour window! I went into this game not knowing anything about it, and it hooked me!

Tunic is an isometric action game developed by Isometricorp Games and published by Finji. I reached out to the folks at Finji, and they were kind enough to give me a review copy of Tunic on PC! 

In Tunic, you play as a fox and explore a land filled with lost legends, ancient powers, and ferocious monsters. Stranded in a ruined land and armed with only curiosity, you will confront colossal beasts, collect strange and powerful items, and unravel long-lost secrets.

I adore this game… in fact, my only regret when playing this game is not getting this sooner…I can’t believe I’ve been missing out all this time!

So let’s address the elephant in the room; this game is clearly inspired by the early Zelda games being isometric and with the protagonist donning a green outfit, sword and shield… much like Link. However, I’d say it’s also a souls-like game, too…just not as hard as a souls game. Don’t get me wrong, though; this is a challenging game, but it’s very souls-inspired. I mean, when you rest at a shrine, it saves the game, replenishes your health and abilities and all the enemies respawn! 

This feels like such an adventure, and much like the recent Zelda games, it throws you into the world and says, “Go explore.” I really liked this because, well, I like games where I can explore and that are non-linear. However, I can see some people being overwhelmed by this initially, so keep this in mind going into the game. 

I must say, as soon as I found my sword, my enjoyment of the game really started to kick into gear, and I could finally start defending and attacking rather than running! For my first hour of exploring, I found an almighty…stick. I managed to defeat some enemies with my nice stick, but it was hard. So when I found my sword, I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. 

Fox with his sword, at the beginning of the game.
The adventure begins!!!

Tunic is such an amazing blend of modern gaming and retro gaming. It feels so smooth at 60 FPS on PC and looks gorgeous. Its simple graphics are really endearing and so cute. Even in the game world, cutting down grass and bushes leaves holes in the ground, fire spreads to enemies, and it all just leaves a smile on your face!

Blending retro with modernism, I loved collecting the pages of a game manual in the world of Tunic. It really took me back to the PS1 and PS2 days reading through the game manuals to learn about the game. For any young whipper-snappers reading this, game manuals are sadly a thing of the past in gaming history and are sorely missed. They provided strategies and information about the game and story before you played because, in some cases, there was no tutorial. These pages/manuals you collect help direct you onwards on your journey and help you strategize your next move! 

Part of a piece of the manual players can find in Tunic. Teaching the player about stamina points.
The manuals of Tunic… a callback to the good ole days

Exploration in this game rewards you for taking risks and moving forward. It feels so satisfying to explore a game while having fun and being rewarded for it. From beating a boss or hard enemies to exploring somewhere you thought inaccessible, it’s almost always worth your while in the form of potions, gems, etc.  

Enemy types here are interesting and varied and provide enough challenge where the game feels hard but fair. Enemies can be challenging, but you feel a sense of accomplishment once you defeat them. This is the same with bosses. They are pretty challenging but not impossible, and they offer a tremendous sense of accomplishment once you beat them after fifteen tries.

This brings me to a fascinating point of interest – for players who struggle with this game but want to finish the story, there is an option to turn off damage and stamina drainage so you can simply enjoy the story. I tried this, and it drastically changed the game, but it’s totally fine! Anyone who wants to should be allowed to experience the story judgment-free!

The soundtrack in Tunic is brilliant! From tense battles to ambient music, it sets the tone and feels perfect for each moment. I was particularly fond of the ambient music while exploring, and it made me want to keep exploring. 

Tunic is a phenomenal experience that truly embodies a video game in every sense of the word. It’s fun, rewarding, and challenging but fair and engages your curiosity. If you get overwhelmed by non-linear free-roam games, this may not be for you, and it requires the players to be in the mood for souls-like battle. 

Have you played Tunic? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Michelle Holstine
29 days ago

What a fun review! This was a fun read. Thanks for doing it!

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