Game Pass Must-Play Tunic is a mashup of Zelda, Dark Souls

An isometric castle in Tunic floats in the clouds as the sun sets below.

Picture: Andrew Shouldice / Finji

In Tunic you wake up like a fox on a colorful and isometric shore. Walk a little and you will find monsters. Go to a cave and you will find a stick to fend them off. Venture a little further and you’ll find a maze of rocks, broken bridges, and other obstacles to navigate in search of the next clue to what you’re up to in this charming little video game world. It’s simple and familiar and exactly the type of game I didn’t know I needed right now.

I hadn’t paid much attention to Tunic before its release yesterday. I had seen glimpses of them as they appeared in indie showcases and on social media. It looked good, but also like the kind of highly stylized retro-channeled production I’d dipped in and out of dozens of times before. And it’s. But it is also much more. The second I started Tunic its tailored look and introspective ambient soundtrack rushed over me like a cool breeze on the first warm day of spring.

Tunic was created by Andrew Shouldice, and like many solo independent projects It took time. He left his job to work Tunic full-time in 2015, when he was still called secret legend. Later, he partnered with Adam Saltsman’s publishing label, Finji, for development and publishing support. dust force the composer Lifeformed provided the music, and it was eventually renamed Tunic at the E3 2017 PC Gaming Show. five years later thisit finally released on Xbox as a day one Game Pass version.

The game lets you explore, fight monsters, and collect shiny items just like you would in a classic Zelda game. There are shrines you save in and ghosts of yourself you can recover the lost loot at the dark souls. Beneath the surface, however, it reminds me 2012 Fez by Polytron. This esoteric puzzle-platformer was an audio-visual feast built from a world full of arcane puzzles. On the surface Tunic looks like a conventional dungeon diver, but from my first few hours playing it feels a lot more like a moody puzzle game.

In this regard, your mileage may vary. While it’s garnered mostly positive reviews so far, there are also criticisms of its combat, which can feel sluggish, and some of the Soulslike elements, which can get in the way of its more contemplative exploration. I’m really digging the mix so far, but there are definitely issues for people to get caught.

For me, it comes at the right time. The release schedule has been relentless in early 2022. I’ve scored ins and outs of Dying Light 2, Forbidden Horizon West, Ring of Elden, Destiny 2: The Witch Queenand lots of other stuff ranging from reveal (FAR: changing tides) to the exploded view (The fall of Babylon). In many ways, it’s been great. It’s also been sensory overload from grinding quest logs or concentrating on not getting my ass kicked. As a result, TunicThe minimalist beauty, calm mood and evocative vibe of are a welcome reprieve. Much more than just a palate cleanser, TunicIt’s the gaming detox that I didn’t even realize I needed until I started playing and immediately fell in love.

The hero of Tunic crosses a stone bridge in a mysterious forest.

Picture: Andrew Shouldice / Finji

Part of what I appreciate so much Tunic now it’s like a throwback to the early 2010s, when some indie developers revolted against the pleasant but loud and sinister presentations of so many big commercial successes that pursued either Call of Duty Where Grand Theft Auto. Despite its obvious influences and accessible trappings, you can still feel a tussle inside. Tunic between the parts that its creator allows you to easily access and those for which you have to work quietly.

Of course, games like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Fezand Monument Valley ended up monopolizing the attention space for certain types of games in their own way. It was a relief to see the stranglehold of a certain kind of minimalist and retro indie aesthetic used to have on what’s published and talked about loosening its grip a bit. It’s been a long time since those games happened – my relationship with Superbrothers to follow JETT: the far shore stay…loaded–and I’m ready for more.

There is a feeling that comes out of the long, cold winter, when the sunlight lasts longer and the air outside is the same temperature as the air inside. It’s as if each new day and the possibilities therein can expand beyond themselves without interruption. Tunicgave me that feeling in the form of a game, and I’m enjoying the respite.


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