Adventure games in the style of Zelda used to be much more common, though for some reason have seemed to become less represented. Even Nintendo themselves aren’t doing many games that look and play like the more classic, 2D games did. Tunic, an already obvious reference to that inspirational series, is unafraid to be that new Zelda experience we all want in all but name. Starring a fox in a green tunic, this charming isometric game holds as many dangers as it does secrets.
While Tunic does borrow many things from Zelda titles of the past, it doesn’t just attempt to replicate them. It adds new mechanics and systems to learn. A main aspect of the game is collecting the in-game manual; however, this isn’t written in a language you can read. Instead, you need to experiment to actually figure out everything from the controls to what items do yourself. That can easily make missing important mechanics or systems a common occurrence. To avoid getting too lost in the early hours of this adventure, make sure to jot down these tips and tricks for Tunic.
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Unlike a normal Zelda game, Tunic‘s combat has a very light souls-like inspiration in the form of a stamina meter. This is the green bar beside your red health bar (and later blue mana bar), which drains whenever you dodge, attack, or block. When it runs out, you will not only be unable to do these actions but also take more damage from any attacks that hit you during this time. To recover it, simply don’t do any of those actions.
Don’t overextend yourself and let your stamina drain too low, especially against bosses. Even if you have an opportunity to get hits in, sometimes it’s wiser to back off and recover your stamina to avoid a potential death by leaving yourself defenseless.
Running is a skill you can do right from the start of Tunic, but even the manual doesn’t make it clear how to do it. To run, you simply need to hold down the A or X button while moving, rather than just tapping it to roll. Unlike a roll, running actually doesn’t drain your stamina. This makes it a great option to move away from danger if you find your green bar running low near a dangerous foe. You can always run to retreat, heal if needed, and then get back in the fight.
Also, it makes navigating the world a lot faster.
Your heroic fox has many stats that can be improved as you explore and collect special items. While you could technically beat the entire game in your base form, getting stronger is much more fun and satisfying. Each state requires a different item, plus some cash, to be exchanged for a buff. Here are all the items you can bring to a Fox Shrine and what stat they will improve:
- Pink Flower: Increases HP
- Green Feather: Increases stamina
- Jagged Tooth: Increases attack
- Fox Statue: Increase Defense
- Blue Mushroom: Increases mana
- Pink Powder: Increases potion strength
Make sure to always cash these in whenever you have them and visit a shrine.
Speaking of potions and shrines, your little fox’s primary way of recovering health is the trusty potion. This, again taking a note from souls-likes, functions just like your Estus Flask. You have a limited number of bottles you can use to heal, and they automatically refill when you rest at a shrine. However, shrines also make any enemy you defeated respawn. Potions can be increased in two ways: by finding new whole potion bottles, or by collecting three potion shards to create a single full bottle. Each one adds one additional healing drink.
Tools, or items, will be very important for completing the game, reaching new areas, and just expanding your options. You will need to equip these from your menu, which will show you all your tools on the bottom left. To equip them, highlight the one you want and assign it to any of your three face buttons. You will need to swap these around depending on the situation, but you should probably keep your trusty sword on one for the majority of the game. Still, being able to assign any tool to any of these buttons means you should experiment and place them however feels most comfortable and intuitive to you.
This is a pretty big world for how small it looks from screen to screen. Even with the ability to run as much as you want, it would be a major drag to backtrack across the entire world once you’ve explored a big chunk of it. Thankfully, that’s where the teleportation system comes in.
Teleporters look like big golden squares on raised platforms. Standing on them won’t do anything, but don’t just assume you’re missing an item or something. All you need to do to activate them is stand and hold down A or X until your fox is whisked away to a kind of central teleport hub area. From here you can easily move between any of the teleporters you’ve found in the world. You still need to do the initial exploration, of course, but this is especially useful if you want to go hunting secrets and collect any items or collectibles you might’ve missed in previous areas.
Speaking of secrets, Tunic hides many things from you in plain sight. Because of the game’s isometric perspective, hidden paths and treasures are meant to be overlooked unless you scrape each screen for these secret pathways. Once you’ve stumbled on a few, you will start to be able to more intuitively spot areas where the geometry is hiding something you can actually reach.
Your fox will also help you out a bit by giving you a subtle clue for areas where there’s a secret to be found. You have to look closely, but your fox’s ears will move toward certain points of interest if you’re close enough to them. In those cases, simply follow your ears to whatever hidden treasure, path, or even entire area awaits!
While it won’t help you beat any bosses, who doesn’t like the option to dress up your main character? Your fox, once you have found the Old House, can wear a variety of different clothing and colors. Of course, like nearly everything else, Tunic won’t mention this is even possible.
To access this feature, head south from the Old House to a pool. From this point, head up through a group of trees to a hidden area behind them, where you will come across a set of dressers. Interact with them to change up your outfit and colors to give your fox a fresh look.
Tunic isn’t an easy game by default, but it is a game that wants to be enjoyed by gamers of all abilities and skill levels. The accessibility options let you tailor the game’s challenges to exactly what you want. If you would rather just enjoy the adventure and exploration, or even just want to get past one frustrating boss battle, you can turn on an invincibility mode on and off at will. You can also turn the stamina system off completely for a more traditional Zelda-like combat experience.
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