The Book of Unwritten Tales – The Critter Chronicles is a game that surprises users at every turn, despite its technical shortcomings, and it’s safe to say it has a great future if the developers increase the production efforts.
The Book of Unwritten Tales – The Critter Chronicles is basically a point-and-click adventure, mixed with some puzzles here and there. It’s developed by a studio called KING Art and it’s the prequel to another game of theirs, called The Book of Unwritten Tales.
When I first heard that they were developing a prequel, I didn’t know what to make of it. Usually, point-and-click adventure games don’t receive prequels. If they are successful, they get, at best, a sequel.
With my interests peeked, I dived into the game and I have to say I was impressed with certain aspects of it, which are usually missing from todays’ games; but enough with the introduction, let’s get on with the game.
I installed the game on Ubuntu 12.10 64-bit and I was a little disappointed, although I can’t really hold anything against the developers.
I played the game on Steam for Linux, but there is a reason why the digital distribution client from Valve hasn’t exited Beta yet. It’s not working properly with applications running concurrently with it.
Most likely, either Steam or the game is not designed to get along with another window running over it. After several attempts to get the game to start, including a few installations of other Nvidia driver versions, I finally tracked down a solution, with the help of the official Steam forum.
It seems that in order to play the game, at least on my system, I had to disable the Steam overlay. This is done by unchecking the “Enable Steam Community in Game” option from Steam > Settings.
I’m not sure whether this is an insurmountable problem or if it’s going to get repaired sometime in the future, but it’s a hassle nonetheless.
Furthermore, once inside the game, you will not be able to fiddle with the Settings because it will cause the game to crash.
Gameplay and Story
I played a lot of point and click adventures over the years and one thing is certain; they don’t make them like they used to.
Quest games, as they were called before the fancy point-and-click adventure title was bestowed upon them, were beautiful and intriguing. People started to shift interest over the years and just like a lot of other genres, quest games slipped into the shadows.
For a reason unknown to me, these types of games are making a comeback and The Book of Unwritten Tales – The Critter Chronicles is one part of this wave of resurrection, alongside its older brother.
The players will reprise the role of Nathaniel „Nate“ Bonnet, a rambunctious character that seems to have a lot of confidence and very few skills.
He won the ship of the infamous Red Pirate at a game of cards and had the courage to take it out of port as if it were a fair game.
The ship is actually an airship. She’s alive and has a constant need to be complimented, especially about her age.
In any case, the Red Pirate sends an Orc bounty hunter by the name of Ma'Zaz to retrieve the ship and to get Nate back, and hold him accountable for this foolishness.
Talking about a point-and-click adventure, it’s quite difficult not to spoil the action, but the game serves one purpose: to explain how Nathaniel „Nate“ Bonnet met his amazing partner Critter (hence the name of the game).
The gameplay mechanism is simple and efficient, but there is an interesting feature that’s worth mentioning and that is a difficulty level.
Adventure games don’t usually come with various difficult levels, but this one does. On normal difficulty, the puzzles are slightly easier, and by pressing the space bar all the interactive objects in the level are highlighted.
On hard difficulty, there are no more clues and the players are left to their own devices. Another factor that makes the game even harder is the weird combination for the other playable character, Critter.
If the actions for Nate usually fall within the human limits, Critter has a different way of doing things and the item combinations are not always clear.
Because Steam is in the Beta stage, I can't say anything about the technical aspects of the game. Nonetheless, there are some visible issues with the character animations. They don't seem natural and at times they look artificial, especially over the static background.
Another issue I have with the game is related to the voice acting. It's not bad, but it would have helped the game a long way if the actors had put more passion into their roles.
The story is probably the best part of a point-and-click adventure and The Book of Unwritten Tales – The Critter Chronicles is very well written, spiritual and funny.
The level backgrounds also have a lot of details and reflect the tremendous work that must have gone into the development.
I have mixed feelings about The Book of Unwritten Tales – The Critter Chronicles. Its dialogues alone make it worthwhile, but other areas of the development have fallen short. All in all, I think it's a game worth playing, especially if you are a fan of the adventure genre.