Familiarity is part of the fun with fox-based Zelda-alike Tunic

Tunic has always looked like Zelda and it’s always looked beautiful. How long now have we gazed down into this balmy isometric world with its neat pointy thickets of grass and ancient slabs of sun-warmed stone? How long have I stared at that plucky little fox in his green outfit, all ready to go off and save…what? The kingdom? The world?

Now, in honour of Gamescom, there’s a demo out. I’ve played it, and you can play it on Steam here if you hurry because it’s only up for a short time. It’s exactly what I was hoping for. And it’s a delight.

I’ve ducked in and out of this demo a bit and it’s a proper charmer. You turn up in the sunny overworld, master the dodge-roll, venture into a cave to open a chest and equip a stick to hit things with, and then head off into a dungeon.

In the dungeon you get a bit of trigger-targeting against various simple foes, you pull a few switches, and then you find yourself, fairly quickly, with a proper sword and a shield. Cue sword-and-shield foes to try your luck against and then a boss, that killed me pretty swiftly.

All of this is lovely and Zelda-like and exactly what I have wanted from Tunic. And this is also vertical slicey enough to suggest that there’s room for surprises here – and room for surprises even in this demo if I go back to sound it out properly.

What I most like about all of this, though, is that Zelda trick of things you can see but can’t get to yet. Chests that appear to be resting on impossible-to-reach ledges, locked doors with no keys. This has been part of Zelda since the very first game, and it’s such a delicate trick to pull off – to tease but also suggest that there is a way to get to all this stuff and it will be revealed in time. Zelda games are about trust in this regard – trust between the player and the developer. I’m still ready to be surprised by Tunic, then, but I’m also ready to trust the team to make this a very familiar kind of magic.