Featuring in this year’s Ludonaracon round-up of demos is TUNIC. It is a golden-hour lit hack and slash adventure game that combines the melancholic atmosphere and combat of Hyperlight Drifter with a warm blanket of comforting nostalgia.
“Underneath the combat is a satisfying Metroidvania experience”
From looking through initial screenshots and playing through the first few minutes, TUNIC caught me off-guard, when it gave me a stick and threw me into the first combat encounter. Despite the ethereal electronic soundtrack and cute aesthetic, the game has deliberate and fast-paced battles. You roll and dash between opponents to score a couple of hits, punctuated with pleasant screen shake upon contact.
The demo starts easily enough, with liberal checkpoints and slow-moving blobs. But, before long, you grab a shield and have to balance your guard, dash, and attacks to conserve your stamina. When you die, you respawn at the last save point and try to collect your lost gold sitting where you left it with the threat of losing it all if you die again.
Underneath the combat is a satisfying Metroidvania experience where you find new items to further explore and progress through the game’s ancient ruins. Like finding a very familiar sword upon a sunlit pedestal, that can cut away pesky bushes.
“Whatever direction TUNIC’s narrative takes, it has a strong start”
But while there are references to gaming touchstones like the Legend of Zelda, TUNIC artfully makes the familiar cryptic through its unique presentation. The in-game text is made up of strange symbols that indicate meaning through colour just as much as shape. Whatever direction TUNIC’s narrative takes, it has a strong start, mixing the history of gaming with fresh ideas and a unique tone.
After fighting your way through several tough enemies that lunge and stab and employ their defences, you scrape through to reach a clearing and doorway blocked by a stone statue. Get close, and the statue awakens. Prepare for a challenging opponent. Fair to say, I died almost immediately. But just as I was preparing myself for a rematch, the demo ended, leaving me all the more excited to see what more the game has to offer for its full release.
Be sure to head on over to TUNIC’s Steam store page to try the demo out for yourself. You can also wishlist it on Steam to be notified of any future updates.