This previous 12 months, retro online game followers received a deal with within the type of Tunic, a cute, colourful hack-and-slash journey sport the place gamers direct a fox via a Legend of Zelda-esque world. With its intuitive gameplay and intelligent degree design, Tunic gained reward from all kinds of critics, however what attracted probably the most consideration was one notably intelligent throwback to the physical-media video games of yesteryear: “handbook web page” collectibles scattered all through the sport’s setting, written (largely) in a cryptic language.
Although troublesome to decipher at instances, these pages had been essential to the ultimate puzzle that unlocked the sport’s “good” ending. On this manner, Tunic each critiques the strategy of addressing issues by simply lashing out with violence (as most video games do) and depicts an oddly Christian-like framework the place a “phrase from past” is critical to realize salvation.
Observe: The next comprises potential spoilers for Tunic.
At a primary degree, the sport appears simple. You’re a cute fox adventurer battling robotic and animal enemies; there’s a vaguely feminine ruler fox seemingly trapped in a spirit realm who you may talk with through shrines; and there’s an enormous temple with three lacking emblems. It’s all extraordinarily acquainted. An early web page discovered from the handbook expresses this finest, displaying your little fox drawing their sword towards an unseen foe: “Once more the identical battle, fought uncounted instances!,” it says. It’s iconic, and the participant feels sure they will comply with the acquainted path, battling their manner via zones and taking down bosses.
Because the participant collects the handbook’s pages, nevertheless, they get the sense that one thing’s improper. It’s unattainable to make certain what, precisely, as a result of the participant solely finds random pages, a few of which aren’t even translated. They might be supplying you with details about an already-completed zone or warning you a few boss that’s in a totally completely different area. There’ll usually be web page references and annotations to materials the participant hasn’t discovered but. However simply sufficient data is accessible to make you conscious that one thing’s not fairly proper. Sure references within the handbook to “prisons” and “powers” make you marvel if the “pure path” you’re persevering with down is absolutely the wisest plan of action.
As you proceed, one factor turns into clear: the ruined civilization you’re exploring was no paradise. Coming into the sport’s “Quarry” part reveals the ability cells you’ve been utilizing comprise diseased and corrupted fox corpses. You additionally grow to be conscious that others have sought the identical prize you’re at present pursuing. Nevertheless, it’s solely when the participant lastly unlocks the portal and enters the spirit fox’s space (“The Last Shore”) that the reality is lastly revealed: the spirit fox is not any trapped princess however somewhat, “The Inheritor,” the sport’s last boss who will, in actual fact, kill you.
Fortuitously, dying shouldn’t be the top right here, although it does scale back most of your stats to zero. Solely in ghost kind are you now capable of finding and purchase the web page displaying that your opponent within the “Once more the identical battle, fought uncounted instances!” web page unfold was certainly the Inheritor. The phrase’s additional significance turns into clear whenever you return to combat the Inheritor once more and defeat them, as doing so merely traps you inside the “Last Shore” area and also you grow to be “The Inheritor to the Inheritor.” That is the battle fought “uncounted” instances as a result of it’s a cycle of violence, a lure for glory-hungry younger foxes. (A fan-translated model of the handbook means that the civilization created this mechanism as a result of somebody should stay within the jail to function a protection towards an extraplanar risk.)
If the sport had been to go away the story there, then it might merely be a cynical cautionary story in regards to the cyclical nature of violence. But it surely doesn’t. There are hints dropped within the handbook in regards to the “Holy Cross” and following the “Golden Path” to discover a second ending. Particularly, the handbook hints at an enormous locked door within the mountain that appears to don’t have any key or resolution until one recovers all the handbook’s pages and figures out an enigmatic puzzle contained all through the entire.
To assemble the handbook requires exploration of the whole sport world, vital pondering round a number of unusual puzzle rooms, and cautious statement of various zones. But it surely’s price it in the long run as a result of whenever you lastly open the door on the mountain high, you discover a letter from the sport’s creators instructing you to “pay a go to to a sure somebody and share your knowledge.” Solely then are you able to lastly meet the spirit fox and assist them escape their jail. The top credit present each enjoying fortunately within the colourful world exterior.
It’s necessary to make clear what Tunic is doing right here. Earlier than Christians grow to be too excited over this sport the place salvation from the pure path of violence is discovered via following the written phrase of the creators, a phrase of warning is suitable. Whereas sure sections of the handbook appear to counsel that the “Holy Cross” path is linked to the sport’s “Cathedral” degree, it is a purple herring; that’s one of many sport’s darkest and most harmful areas, filled with brainwashed foxes. It comprises a cross, and even a radioactive energy-fox crucified upon it, however there isn’t any salvation to be discovered there. Actually, translating the handbook reveals that it particularly says it’s a “tragedy” to imagine that the Holy Cross is discovered solely inside the Cathedral. Tunic’s creators don’t have any intentions of endorsing any faith.
Somewhat, Tunic’s handbook advises the participant to “look throughout you—the Holy Cross is all over the place!” Cautious statement and exploration is what issues to realize enlightenment. This means a extra animistic type of perception. And but, all of the statement and exploration can be meaningless with out the handbook’s “extraplanar textual content” and particularly, the phrase of the creators. True victory can’t be achieved on one’s personal, and positively not by merely “following your coronary heart” and making the “proper” choices, as some video games construction their narrative. There’s no impersonal sense of being at one with the universe, however as a substitute, a concrete private entity that one should search course from.
Tunic depicts a world the place following one’s instincts results in catastrophe, and enlightened phrases are essential to interpret the thriller of the pure world and discover true freedom. Whereas it definitely comprises a deep suspicion of institutionalized faith, the extent to which Tunic mirrors a Christian understanding of reality is outstanding and one thing price being attentive to.