Tunic has been a darling of the gaming scene for several years now, and that’s been its one and only problem: it’s been quite a while since we first saw it, and it’s still not out yet. The same demo has been making the rounds for many moons. But one-man-developer Andrew Shouldice’s absolutely adorable fox and his Zelda-like adventure is finally almost ready, and we got an exclusive hands-on with the all-new E3 2021 demo that’s coming to your Xbox on June 15. Here are five reasons why this charming fox needs to be on your radar.
1. It’s Tougher Than it Looks
Tunic’s old demo didn’t really make it clear how challenging the combat can get. In the new demo, which includes a slice of the overworld as well as one dungeon, you’ll encounter a number of different enemies after you find, in order, a stick, a sword, and then a shield – from simple blobs to laser turrets to a giant bone monster that, try as I might with every powerup I could find in the demo, like ice bombs and sticks of dynamite, I could not bring down. I presume I’ll be more powerful later on in the full game to come back and conquer it, but the demo makes it clear that there are going to be places that you probably shouldn’t go yet, no matter how tempted you are to get through the doors the toughest creatures are guarding. Speaking of which…
Tunic: E3 2021 Screenshots
2. It’s Full of Mystery
Who the heck is this fox? What is going on in this world? What does the in-game language mean and will I ever be able to translate it? And why are there help screens in the world modeled after old-school video game instruction manuals and strategy guides? I love the added sense of mystery and intrigue that Tunic brings that it absolutely doesn’t need to. The gameplay would be just as fun and the presentation just as compelling without them, but they’re there, and they make me want to play more to uncover the answers to those questions.
3. It’s Got Secrets to Find
Like any good Zelda-style game, there are secrets hiding all over the place if you look carefully enough. Shouldice very politely requested I not spoil any of them for you before you have a chance to play the demo for yourself, so I’ll just say this: put yourself in a Zelda mindset, and you’ll probably have some good ideas of where to look. Shouldice told me there are six secret items hidden in the demo, which means there are certainly plenty more to discover in the full game as well.
4. It Seems Like a Big Game
On this note, the new demo makes it pretty clear that you won’t be completing Tunic in just one sitting. The one dungeon here has plenty of layers to it, and while you can save your progress at various shrines, doing so resets all of the monsters, so there’ll be a constant tug of war between taking risks to progress and playing it safe. I do appreciate how there are environmental shortcuts that open up as you go, meaning that if you die – and believe me, you will die – respawning at the last save point means you won’t have to walk as far or fight through everything all over again in order to get where you’re going. But this world is clearly a big one, just like any Zelda-style game worth its salt.
5. It Looks and Sounds Lovely
Finally, allow me to state the obvious: Tunic looks and sounds beautiful. The simplistic, colorful visuals lend Tunic a very playful visual tone, while the serene music adds a very pleasant, calming vibe to the gameplay. The combination of the two is fantastic. Tunic blends retro and modern – in both the audio and visual departments – in a way that gives it a wholly unique look and feel. I absolutely love it.
I wholeheartedly recommend you play the Xbox demo yourself on June 15, and after you do I have little doubt that Tunic will not only ping on your upcoming-game radar, but rocket up towards the top of your wishlist in the process. While Shouldice still hasn’t given a concrete release date for Tunic, there’s more reason than ever to believe that 2021 is finally the year.