There is an easy way to tell if a game is actually any good. Check to see if it has the Lace Mamba logo on the box.
Lace Mamba are not the actual developers of The Book of Unwritten Tales. No, that acclaim goes to King Art Games, specifically the creators Marc Konig and Jan Theysen, who released the game in late 2011. It has taken awhile to vend its way to Australian shores however and after that awhile to vend its way into my hands.
And Lace Mamba have picked a winner to publish, one specifically written to take you back to the old school point and click adventure games. The game itself is well written with puzzles that do make you think and aren’t always that obvious which is a blessing. The writing is funny as well – the game eternally pokes fun at adventure game, RPG and fantasy tropes and stereotypes. As one character, Nate, puts it:
“Let me guess, you are now going to tell me that there is a series of tedious tasks to do in order to get you to help me?”
And another, Ivo:
“Artefact? IT? Now we are really getting cliche, aren’t we?”
You alternate characters as you play. There are four of them and though they eventually come together as you play out the entire story, you do play certain chapters and sections with just one of them at a time. They have their different talents and that makes a difference to how you solve puzzles in the game. This makes for the developers having done some clever strategising to create some of the puzzles in the game, particularly when you play the last few sections and find a whole new side to chapters you have already played.
The story takes you through a world with a civil war brewing where you are suddenly aware of something that could change the course of the war and give either side the upper hand. And of course the bad guys want to get their hands on it first and your characters end up getting tangled in it and chosen to get to said object first. No one is ever really entirely sure what said object actually is till you get right to the end of the game.
It doesn’t hurt that the graphics and the music is pretty too. I give you the screenshots as evidence and in the box is a second CD with a game soundtrack as well.
But what I really love are the gags. Fun is poked at everything and I mean everything and perhaps not always on the right side of being PC. And what is annoying is that the gags are so awesome that it is hard to discuss them without feeling like you might be spoiling the gameplay and enjoyment and surprise for others.
“Nate: The bridesmaids looked a bit suspect.
Ma’zaz” Oh so that’s why you decided to strip search them?”
But fun is poked at World of Warcraft, at Dungeons and Dragons, at Discworld, at Zorro (surprise, surprise, didn’t expect that) and the list goes on to include spins on Elvis, feminism in a fantasy setting and certain interesting facets of modern popular culture. it works out well because they are fans.
The voices were amusing too – the accents decided upon for different characters had me in stitches and sounded so apt. Wilbur was voiced by Nicholas Aaron, Ma’Zaz by Alison Dowling, and Andrew Wincott’s Paladin, Ben Crowe as Zloff and Alison Pettitt as the weeping maiden are all great performances. An added bonus is David Rintoul but the surprise is what character he voices.
It’s a wonderful game to play and a great one for cheering you up. It’s currently in EB Games stores across Australia for anywhere between $20 to $30 AUD but can also be found online at Steam. and GOG.com for just $19.95 USD.
Windows Xp/Vista/7 | Intel 1.5 Ghz | 512 MB of RAM | 2.5 GB free hard disk space | 128 MB Graphics memory | DirectX9 compatible sound card | DirectX Version 9.0