We are the result of our tales
which have gone before. Now Oblivion threatens to consume them.
Alfred Walsh has become the new
librarian at a private collection. “Look after the library” is the
exhortation, and “don't leave the room”. Sitting around doing not much
of anything seems perfect, until the note you should have read blows out
the window, and Oblivion is released. Then the note comes back, and
Alfred must enter the books around him in pursuit of a way to overcome
Entering the books is a literal
(and literary) pursuit. Find the book you need through the catalogue,
and Alfred will pick it up. A blue shimmer later, and Alfred is part of
the story, able to interact with the characters of that particular tale.
King Arthur is a particularly
important tome, but not for the King himself. Rather, Merlin will be a
constant source of help and support, making sense of things for Alfred
and pointing him towards the next book. Alfred may very well find
himself saying something like “looks like I better have a talk with
Merlin”, and a chat when he says so is indeed a good idea. Very early on
he gives you a small bell, which is the way to get out of a book and
return to the library, and a magic bag, which is very important indeed.
Each book has its own inventory,
full of the items you find in the Tale, and when you leave, you leave
the inventory behind. Except for an item placed in the magic bag. It
will come with you, and be able to be used somewhere else. It’s a nifty,
if occasionally cumbersome aspect.
The cumbersome-ness comes from
only being able to transport one item at a time. In some puzzles, what
this results in is a lot of backwards and forwards through the library
in order to gather the range of items needed in a particular place. You
may have to fiddle around a bit in the library as well if your books are
on different floors, commanding Alfred to walk down the stairs before
accessing the next book. It was laborious at those times when you knew
what you needed and it was simply a question of transport, and if you
are stuck and think “maybe this item will work there”, you can do a lot
of to-ing and fro-ing just to try the item.
The particular tale will help a
little, preventing you from putting items in the bag that have no
business being used elsewhere. Things that can be used can be taken, but
near as I can tell you can then leave them everywhere, rather than in
the book where they need to be used. And at least one item must be used
in more than one tale, so it is still a management challenge.
Which is where I thought the
nifty came in. Knowing where I left things, loading and unloading the
bag, moving things about in the most efficient way possible. Yes the
limitation of one at a time could be frustrating, but overall I liked
When you ring the bell to depart
a book, you will enter it again at the same place you left. I found this
helpful in some of my more involved fetch and carries. It must also be
different in books, because popping out of existence in full view of the
other characters didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
Tales is another game in that
ever more common retro style of presentation, presenting its worlds in a
vibrant pixelly way. The library is the least interesting place
visually, albeit splendidly crammed full of books, but while it is the
centre of things, the books themselves offer a rich tapestry of places
to explore. Rich and varied too are the tales Alfred must hop in and out
of – from Jack and the Beanstalk through to The Divine Comedy, visiting
heroes and gods and more ordinary folk in between. Thor, Athena,
Gilgamesh and Phileas Fogg are but a few.
It will likely be apparent from
the bag usage that inventory items and little side quests is a big part
of the puzzling palette. There are though more than a few out and out
puzzles, none brain busting hard, but some which required a fair degree
of tinkering and thinking. Codes, deciphering languages and sliders
feature, as does winning at pelota and Mayan tic-tac-toe (which you can
play a long time in order to win). Some of these will generate a pop up
window, useful for close up manipulation, but some at least closed once
the mouse moved outside the pop-up window. No big thing, but irksome on
There are times when a puzzle
won’t activate or an item can’t be used in a certain way because you
haven’t yet triggered whatever it is that makes that response available.
Perhaps you haven’t read the note or had the conversation that provides
the clue to the combination, or have a reason to pick up the particular
object or use it in the way proposed. It keeps you on your toes, so be
sure to be persistent.
Some puzzles require you to do
things in a certain time frame. Not twitchy actiony type stuff, just
distract the person and then do what it is you need to do before they
come back. You can fail, and even get captured, but you just try again.
There are also some conversation puzzles, where the correct responses
are needed in order to move on.
Tales is all point and click,
right click to look and left click for actions. Generous hotspots will
indicate things of interest, and the game screens are either single
screens or scroll a little left and right. Most locations are only a few
screens (Merlin’s is in fact a single screen) but they are full of
detail and do not feel confined or restrained. Exits are indicated by
hotspots, and double clicking will “jump” you there and load the next
screen should you not want to watch Alfred walk there. Double clicking
will also do the same for entering a book. You can save at will.
The exploration is generally
accompanied by a musical score suited to the location, with sound
effects throughout. Voices are a bit of a mixed bag, although Alfred is
one of the better ones, if perhaps a little too laid back. You can
though choose to play without voices at all, and everything will be in
text bubbles, or without the bubbles and only voices, or with both (the
default setting). Whoever is speaking will be displayed on the screen in
a pop-up window.
There are locations and names
pronounced differently across the characters, which I guess is typical
of real life but I thought they could have settled on how to pronounce
the Mayan city, and the use of “dude” was overdone. Voice level can
fluctuate between characters as well.
Which were small things though
in the scheme of things, and didn’t detract at all from what was about
ten hours of jaunty fun (I did do a lot of jumping about). There is a
good spread of things to do, all dressed up in a vibrant and engaging
package. As for the fate of Oblivion and Alfred, you can find that out
I will be sure to visit Ape
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz
RAM: 32GB GDDR5
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 470 8192MB
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