Ao Dai Reviews (EShop Conversion) | Nintendo Life

The opening moments of Ao Dai fool us into thinking we are in a derivative Zelda-like adventure. A little fox-like figure in a green tunic reminiscent of some hero waking up on the beach. From an isotropic camera angle, this fox (known as the Ruin Seeker) finds a sword and soon a blue and red shield. Sure, it wouldn’t be long before we discovered boomerangs and bows to solve puzzles – but such item-based puzzles never appeared. Instead, Tunic forged its own identity with some amazingly unique mechanics and with drag combat from that bottomless design that indie developers haven’t run out of: Dark souls.

You’ve seen it before: a fitness bar that indicates you, as a Ruin Seeker, can block or dodge attacks, and when you die – and you will death – an echo of your body can be restored to regain the gold you lost when you died. Spend this gold with the proper upgrade in hand, increasing Attack, Health, Stamina, etc. Your sword has a simple three-hit combo, but the complexity of the fight against Slorms and Chompingnoms come from recognizing attack patterns, using invincible frames in dodging and attacking if you’re brave. Throw in some magic items and the fight never gets old in this 15-hour adventure.

Ao Dai Review - Screenshot 1/2
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

However, you’ll spend most of your time in Tunic exploring beautifully detailed environments to a soundtrack that won’t be off the lo-fi learning playlist. From ancient forests to underground sci-fi ziggurats, there are much Little secrets to uncover. Most of the time, the classy perspective hides secrets and shortcuts beneath the bridge and behind the stairs, rewarding tenacious players who explore every nook and cranny. These areas never require pushing blocks onto switches or lowering and raising the water level to advance, but rather detailed analysis of the in-game manual – by far the most unique feature by Tunic.

Scattered around the world are the lost pages of this manual. Some pages show simple controls like scrolling, blocking and the like, while others depict maps of certain areas and detail the story. It is here, in these wonderful pages, that Tunic hides hints and clues as to how to progress through the world; only by checking these pages can you figure out where to go and what to do. It’s an ingenious idea that makes it all more intriguing and mysterious with Tunic’s makeup language. It’s not necessary to parse this language, it’s translated enough to give a rough idea of ​​what’s going on, but it reinforces the old-school difficulty and discoverability that lasts the entire game. play.

About two-thirds of Tunic players play discovery and learn from the manual to ring this bell and then find that medal while fighting enemies, getting defeated by some bosses, and discovering more secrets. secret about the mechanics in the game. Seriously, we didn’t know what was going on with the Ability Card system for over half the game, and it took us an embarrassing time learning how to deal – and we didn’t count that. This is negative. On the contrary, we love how the game offers few hands to hold.

Review of Ao Dai - Screenshot 2/2
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Unattached)

In the latter third, Tunic knocks expectations off both narratively and mechanically in a way that we won’t spoil here, but it reinvests us in the game despite believing we’ve come to the end. final. It all adds up with a final boss fight where we somehow managed not to crack our Pro Controller over our two dozen failed attempts. A wide range of accessibility options, including a ‘No Defeat’ mode and reduced battle difficulty, for those who find the sudden difficulty of the bosses too much. Personally, overcoming these challenges makes us happy, but we have to admit that some bosses have strayed a bit too much into the area of ​​unfairness.

But how does all of this run? Tunic is, after all, developed for much more powerful hardware with 4K output at 60fps. Unfortunately, the Switch port comes with some hiccups that make it harder to recommend if you have a different way of playing. Specifically, the lowered resolution disturbs the vivid world, giving the whole experience ‘dim’ lighting in a game that clearly means defined edges and frames. clear scene. Handheld mode alleviates this somewhat, and if you haven’t seen footage of the game running on another platform, and if 30fps doesn’t bother you, these warnings may not bother you either. friend.

However, you’ll notice when the game freezes for a second or two during busier boss battles; this never happened to us against regular enemies, but it often happens with the final battles of each region. This didn’t result in us getting hits we wouldn’t have, nor disrupted progress in any way, but it still annoyed us. Hopefully a patch or two can fix this.


You would be wrong to assume that the cute fox-like protagonist and colorful world imply that Tunic is a relaxing little adventure for all ages – it’s anything but. Tunic requires a lot of intuitive thinking and patience to navigate its beautiful world with its excellent in-game manual. Along with an uncompromising combat system that punishes impatience and rewards research for opponents, Tunic is a game designed for those well-versed in old-school adventure and the experienced. in the difficult, sometimes disappointing swordplay genre. With all this and its obvious Hylian inspiration, and even with some unfortunate performance hiccups and obvious downgrades from versions on other platforms, Tunic feels at home on console, and we recommend viewing it as an innovative and concise adventure that is both engaging and expansive based on some reputable inspiration.

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