Tunic (2022) revels in nostalgia. Playing the game, it is hard not to see echoes of the past from previous titles like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991) and Dark Souls (2011). It is a game purposely trying to recreate an experience from a pre-Internet time in gaming where the only information a player had was an instruction manual and whatever could be gleamed from talking to others about what they too had seen. Featuring an in-game system where the player learns more about what the character is capable of from pages in a booklet positioned in a liminal space between diegetic (the character discovers pages in-world) and non-diegetic (the player learns how to better navigate spaces from the representation of physical marks in the digital booklet), Tunic (2022) plays with how paratexts (“feelies”) interact with games. The text of the game is a paratext onto itself, layering more explicit instructions on top of in-game, implicit discovery by the player.
While there is much to talk about around how the game faithfully (or not) pulls tropes from previous The Legend of Zelda titles in its use of swords, shields, and in-game combat, my interest is in its approach to pedagogy. How well does the game teach? What did you learn through experimentation, and what did you learn from reading the in-game booklet? How did the two interact for you? Did you learn the “golden cross” from the game or from the booklet?
Some additional questions to consider:
- Did you use the accessibility system to make combat easier? (I certainly did!)
- Did you learn any of the advanced secrets with the golden cross?
- How did you feel about the different layers of story: as presented in the booklet, as revealed by the game (the source of the “pillars,” for example), and the ongoing journey of the confrontation between parent and child figures?
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