This previous yr, retro online game followers bought a deal with within the type of Tunic, a cute, colourful hack-and-slash journey sport the place gamers direct a fox by means of a Legend of Zelda-esque world. With its intuitive gameplay and intelligent stage design, Tunic received reward from all types of critics, however what attracted probably the most consideration was one significantly intelligent throwback to the physical-media video games of yesteryear: “handbook web page” collectibles scattered all through the sport’s surroundings, written (principally) in a cryptic language.
Although troublesome to decipher at occasions, these pages have 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 important to realize salvation.
Notice: The next comprises potential spoilers for Tunic.
At a primary stage, 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 by way of shrines; and there’s a large 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 occasions!,” it says. It’s iconic, and the participant feels sure they’ll observe the acquainted path, battling their manner by means of zones and taking down bosses.
Because the participant collects the handbook’s pages, nonetheless, they get the sense that one thing’s flawed. It’s unimaginable to make certain what, precisely, as a result of the participant solely finds random pages, a few of which aren’t even translated. They could be providing you with details about an already-completed zone or warning you a few boss that’s in a very totally different area. There’ll typically be web page references and annotations to materials the participant hasn’t discovered but. However simply sufficient info is obtainable to make you conscious that one thing’s not fairly proper. Sure references within the handbook to “prisons” and “powers” make you surprise if the “pure path” you’re persevering with down is de facto the wisest plan of action.
As you proceed, one factor turns into clear: the ruined civilization you’re exploring was no paradise. Getting into the sport’s “Quarry” part reveals the facility cells you’ve been utilizing include diseased and corrupted fox corpses. You additionally develop into conscious that others have sought the identical prize you’re at the moment pursuing. Nonetheless, it’s solely when the participant lastly unlocks the portal and enters the spirit fox’s space (“The Ultimate Shore”) that the reality is lastly revealed: the spirit fox is not any trapped princess however reasonably, “The Inheritor,” the sport’s closing boss who will, in reality, kill you.
Fortuitously, demise just isn’t the top right here, although it does scale back most of your stats to zero. Solely in ghost type are you now capable of finding and purchase the web page displaying that your opponent within the “Once more the identical battle, fought uncounted occasions!” web page unfold was certainly the Inheritor. The phrase’s additional significance turns into clear once you return to combat the Inheritor once more and defeat them, as doing so merely traps you inside the “Ultimate Shore” area and also you develop into “The Inheritor to the Inheritor.” That is the battle fought “uncounted” occasions 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 menace.)
If the sport have been to depart the story there, then it will merely be a cynical cautionary story concerning the cyclical nature of violence. Nevertheless it doesn’t. There are hints dropped within the handbook concerning the “Holy Cross” and following the “Golden Path” to discover a second ending. Particularly, the handbook hints at a large locked door within the mountain that appears to don’t have any key or resolution until one recovers the entire handbook’s pages and figures out an enigmatic puzzle contained all through the entire.
To assemble the handbook requires exploration of the complete sport world, important considering round a number of unusual puzzle rooms, and cautious statement of various zones. Nevertheless it’s price it ultimately as a result of once you lastly open the door on the mountain prime, 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 tip credit present each taking part in fortunately within the colourful world outdoors.
It’s vital to make clear what Tunic is doing right here. Earlier than Christians develop into too excited over this sport the place salvation from the pure path of violence is discovered by means of following the written phrase of the creators, a phrase of warning is suitable. Whereas sure sections of the handbook appear to recommend that the “Holy Cross” path is linked to the sport’s “Cathedral” stage, it is a pink 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 is no such thing as a salvation to be discovered there. In reality, 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.
Quite, 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 implies 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 an alternative, a concrete private entity that one should search path 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 exceptional and one thing price listening to.