Developed by LEAP Game Studios and to be published by HypeTrain Digital, Tunche is a 2D Beat ’em-up featuring Rogue-Lite elements and sees you taking on the role of one of a band of five heroes as they explore the depths of the Amazon Rainforest in search of the mysterious Tunche. It is an adventure featuring hand-drawn animated sprites, a story that takes inspiration from Peruvian myths and legends, and a ton of frogs to punch along the way.
Play the game solo, or play it co-op with up to four friends! Or just with yourself using several controllers if you want to. I mean who am I to judge?
STORY – INTO THE JUNGLE
In Tunche you take on the role of one of five playable characters including Rumi, Pancho, Qaru, Nayra, and Hat Kid from A Hat In Time. Their quest is to delve deep into the Amazon rainforest to seek the favour of Tunche. Each character has their own backstory which you learn about by finding books along each of your runs. These are presented in short comic book style sequences and help to give you the backstory of our cast.
It is honestly hard to discuss the story too much at this point. As in the build, I played there is little regarding the overall story in Tunche aside from what you find in those books; there is no opening cutscene or tutorial, you start at the camp where you select characters from and go from there. I cannot in good faith criticise the developers too much for this. It is an early build after all, and I’d be nuts to do so. Though I must admit I have no idea what exactly Tunche is supposed to actually be, I am certain that will become clearer in later builds.
THE STORY SO FAR
What we do get within the books however is still good to see. It is a neat way to add more story into the game to be sure; they are optional and this helps to prevent cutscenes and sequences from breaking up the flow of play too much. Also, it is all well written to be sure and it really helps to compliment the quality art style in these sections.
Tunche is of course inspired by myths and legends from Peru. In all honesty dear reader, this is not an area of expertise of mine. So I cannot comment on how well or not it adapts or pays homage to that source material. But as a total novice regarding it and the presentation of it in the game, I still have to say that what we get here in and of itself is still fascinating to behold. And it honestly makes me want to learn more about the characters and myths that inspired it, which in my book is always a good thing.
It’s all very easy to digest stuff. And is presented in a way which ensures that you aren’t forced into rerunning narrative sequences each run, and it helps maintain the game’s momentum. It is an action game after all. And in its current state that is the part where Tunche really shines brightly.
GAMEPLAY – RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE
Tunche’s core gameplay loop as previously stated is a Beat ’em-up not too dissimilar to Castle Crashers or Final Fight; you go from screen to screen eliminating baddies as they pop up, building up combos whilst using a combination of close-range, long-range, and special attacks.
The controls are simple yet intuitive; if you have ever played a game like this before then you know how to play this one. And there is nothing about Tunche’s control scheme which adds some unnecessary gameplay element that overcomplicates it. It is everything that a game like this needs it to be. The game is not without depth, however; there are plenty of special moves and button combos to be learnt and unlocked as you play. Games like this are made or broken on how well they control, and Tunche gets it right on the money.
A COOL COMBO
The inclusion of Rogue-lite elements in Tunche makes for an innovative twist on the Beat ’em-up formula. Unlike other similar style games, this means that each fight actually means something to the development of your characters beyond just offering an obstacle; they can give you vital resources to make your quest easier on future runs through the game; Being a Rogue-lite if you die you return to camp to start from scratch. Though this time acquiring upgrades you will be able to purchase thanks to the things you acquired on your last run.
It does start to feel a tad repetitive, however, as you find yourself fighting the same monsters over and over again; the first room (at least in this build) is the exact same every time you play which gets rather samey on repeat playthroughs.
FROG PUNCHER 2000
It must be said that there is little that feels as though it really differentiates the playable characters from each other; they all control and fight more or less the same. It only feels as though maybe one or two are at all different in how they fight from the others. Pancho feels like he moves slower and is more of your classic bruiser type and Nayra feels as though she maybe has a little extra range. But aside from that they all play similarly. I could be wrong about that, however. But as it currently stands there is little really differentiating each character beyond their design in that regard.
Which on the one hand does help to ensure that playing different runs of the game is accessible; you don’t find yourself turning your nose up at one character because they don’t suit your play style. Nor do you have to learn a whole new host of complex mechanics to get the most out of them. However, the apparent lack of variety doesn’t do much to incentivise me to play other characters aside from just to see their animations or try and find their story books.
Still, as it stands that is only a minor gripe. And the fact I am being this nit-picky at this point is a good indicator of just how good the game’s gameplay is; it’s honestly fantastic. It’s streamlined enough to be stress-free but still has the depth and finesse to it to be constantly engaging. I am honestly excited to see what they do next with it!
GRAPHICS & AUDIO – JUNGLE BOOGIE
The art style in Tunche is crisp and impeccably well designed and features some sweet character and creature designs. One of the game’s draws is its hand-drawn artwork and animation. And it is all done with a smooth visual flare that is a delight to behold when it is in action. Every fight is rich with visual sceptical which is often stunning. Especially when coupled with some of the special moves and boss monsters that you can meet along the way.
Everything has a personality to it which is almost instantly understandable the moment you see it. Personality that is only emboldened and enhanced as you see them in motion. There is something very cute about the designs of many of the characters and monsters that you face. But never so cute it gets detracting. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the game is charming and wonderful to behold, it is pleasant, delightful, and yet can still have the utility to give you all the important information you need to actually get ahead in the game.
Tunche’s soundtrack is a neat fusion of more traditional folk music and more Rock like flourishes which help to give it a truly unique soundtrack and really helps to sell the feel of the game. I have honestly never heard anything quite like it before. Or at the very least, nothing quite as fresh and bold as this before. It really does help to add an extra layer of polish and production value which easily rivals and exceeds that of large games and companies.
Tunche was previewed on PC with a key provided by HypeTrain Digital.