Developed by LEAP Game Studios and published by HypeTrain Digital Tunche is a 2D Rogue-Like Beat ‘Em Up inspired by the myths and legends of the developer’s home nation of Peru. Join a colourful cast of characters as they seek out Tunche and save the rainforests. Play alone or with friends as you unlock new powers, upgrades, and a range of cool lore tidbits for you to research and review between battles.
I did a preview for Tunche earlier this year and I was impressed by what I saw and eagerly awaited the final release. And I have to say that it was well worth the wait. Tunche is a great game and one of the best that I have played this year. Sure, it isn’t without it’s flaws but over all I am mightily impressed by it.
STORY – WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Tunche is a written game, offering us a script that is frequently intriguing and compelling. Featuring a core mystery that unfolds itself at a steady pace to keep you engaged and only becomes richer with each playthrough. Additionally there a few gags and jokes thrown in here and there which are fun for what they are; not the greatest gags in the world but they do the job. The majority of our story is told either through short interactions with side characters or in comic book sequences which are found on your journey into the jungle.
Each of our playable characters has their own storylines which will gradually unfold the deeper into the jungle they go. Each world has one ‘comic’ hidden within it which you can sometimes find during a playthrough. These comic sequences aren’t especially long and are largely flashbacks to the events before they came to join the group; giving you insight into their motivation, why they are seeking Tunche, and so forth. From a purely mechanical point of view these give a nice balance between artwork and text. With the text itself never been too dense to have to read through.
I honestly I can’t comment on how well or not it adapts the myths and legends of Peru. However, Tunche does feel authentic and well informed. So if there have been any creative liberties taken it feels like it has been done in a way which is respectful. And whilst I am unfamiliar with that source material I have to say that it is straight forwards enough to understand.
However, as much as I enjoy the story I am shocked at how optional it is. Upon completing an area you get the choice of what kind of reward you wish to get from completing the next area one. Whilst these options can include items for your quest it can also include the option to get more story sequences. This in turn means you can choose to skip said story sections if you want.
Its a novel way of delivering its story. People who want more can get more. And people who don’t can avoid it. Its simple but effective. But given the random nature of which rooms can appear it does feel like you can go quite some time without finding any story sections at all. And of course you won’t learn the backstory of anyone you don’t play as. You might get an appearance by them in someone else’s story, but you won’t learn much until you play as them. Which can feel a little bit of a chore for reasons I’ll discuss in the Gameplay section.
Like I say, at best this makes the story of Tunche feel unintrusive to the gameplay. And gives you chance to just play and not worry about re-watching a story section several times in an hour. However at worse given how random the rewards can be, you might not even see any new story sequences for many hours. Of course, when you do get a chance to read it the story is great. I just wish I didn’t need to grind so much to find it.
GAMEPLAY – TUNCHE’S TRIALS
As stated in the introduction, Tunche is a Beat’em-up Rogue-Like hybrid. The core of the gameplay being similar to titles such as Castle Crashers, Final Fight, and Double Dragon; You travel from area to area beating the merry hell out of anything hostile and avoid getting defeated. Then when everything has been killed you are rewarded with either Experience Points, Gold, Essences, or Orbs. How much of any given resource you receive is tied to how high your combo meter is once the fight is over.
Once the fight is over one or more portals open. This then allows you know what reward you will get for clearing the area they lead to. So you might get the option between more a portal that will reward you with Gold for completing that area and Experience points in the other. Its a simple mechanism which adds a fine level of player choice to what would otherwise have been just some random number generation offscreen.
The way your combo rank is calculated is one of the more novel aspects of the combat in Tunche. Unlike some other systems your combo rank isn’t really tied to the amount of times that you hit an enemy, its more about the variety of attacks that you use; so you can’t keep mashing the basic attack button and hope to get an SSS rank, you need to spice things up with ranged, air attacks, and special moves.
New moves and powers are unlocked at your camp between playthroughs. These can help you to raise your combo rank higher which leads to more rewards. This is helped by the fact that enemy attacks are well telegraphed with a little indicator appearing telling you where and how an enemy is about to attack. As such there is never a moment where I am surprised by where an attack is coming from. Which given how busy the fights can become it is a welcome element.
Tunche offers a wide cast of different characters who you can play as. Each one has their own playstyle and move-set that can really compliment your own playstyle. Pancho is slow but a heavy hitter, Rumi is an all rounder, Nayra has extra reach, Qaru fast but weak, and guest character Hat Kid (from the game A Hat In Time) seems to have the most powerful ranged attacks. These characters can be further enhanced with Essences which are temporary upgrades which last for the duration of your run. These can grant you poison attacks, the chance to gain health from kills, explosive kills, and much more.
Tunche is a Rogue-Like, as such when you die you have to start back from the first level and go from there; this means going back through the same areas you have already cleared and fighting the same bosses often multiple times. If you have ever played a Rogue-Like before you have a good idea what kind of thing you are getting yourself in for. If you haven’t then this is a fine introduction to them. It isn’t overly difficult and there are plenty of ways to upgrade you characters. Plus you have a decent degree in control over what rooms and areas you will be able to venture to next.
However with Tunche being a Rogue-Like the gameplay can feel repetitive at times. Once you get to a certain point in the game you will have seen practically everything there is to see. And there is very little there after to really add more variety into what you are doing. So you will end up just going back to that first room to fight the same frogs over and over again which does start to grate on you after a while.
HERE WE GO AGAIN
To be fair, the upgrades do make defeating said monsters and bosses quicker and easier. However that doesn’t get over the lack of variety in the core experience. And whilst they can add some variety the Essences really don’t add much of a twist on what you are doing as, whilst each character does handle differently and each has their own traits, the gameplay loop remains the same.
This isn’t helped by the fact I feel that the upgrade system almost discourages playing as other characters. Sure, you can switch out as much as you like at the base camp. But why would you when you can spend your time just upgrading one character as far as you can? Variety is the spice of life, but given how few tangible upgrades are shared between them there are times where it feels more effective to just keep running as one character rather than switching out all the time.
However with all that said the game itself is great. I don’t want to sound like I am just ragging on it, because I’m not, its a hell of a lot of fun! However fighting the same boss several times in the space of an hour starts to get old after a while. Especially when you know that if you could just skip to it you’d have nailed in one shot this time. Though if we are honest that itself is where the hook of these games comes from.
Its the “I’ll get ’em next time” feeling. Like when you play games of a certain vintage that required you to learn the level layouts or commit moves to muscle memory. Of course Tunche doesn’t get as extreme as that. But when I do fail I know it is my fault and not the game’s. And I am ready to go in, try again, and do better this time.
That is the nature of games like this. Its a long series of trial and error. Each time getting a little further and closer to your goal. Like I said earlier, at it’s heart the gameplay of the Tunche is fantastic. Offering quick fire action and a great amount of visual sceptical. There are is very little at fault here and it is easily one of the best titles I have played all year.
GRAPHICS & SOUND – TUNEFUL TUNCHE
Tunche has bright and colourful animation that is brimming with character. From the smallest of monsters to the biggest bosses and of course our core cast all of them have a wealth of personality which adds such visual flare to so much in the game. Goodness, given how imaginative and well realised the monster designs are it makes exploring new areas all the more exciting; it adds a great sense of discovery as you enter into a new area and find some new beasty to knock about.
Honestly, screenshots really don’t do the design and animations justice. It is a fine game to just watch and see just how smooth everything flows and just how brilliant the animations is. And as well designed and cool as elements of the game are, they are never too visually busy; vital information isn’t lost or hard to make out, everything is obvious and clear to understand. It mixes visual flare and utility in a fantastic way that it makes the game even more of a joy to play.
Tunche’s soundtrack is a is a truly unique beast. It is this a three way fusion of what sounds like traditional Peruvian folk music with echoes of rock music and more 16-32bit video game sounds. It all works to create something that has a feel and a flavour to it unlike any other games that I have played before.
Something that naturally feels perfectly inline with the story and environment that features in the title. It adds to this sense of discovery and adventure. Like I am truly witnessing something fresh and new and going on my own journey into places unknown. Which is exactly what our heroes are doing.
Even beyond the genera and style of it the music wonderfully flows in and out as your adventure progresses; fading in and becoming big and bombastic when the fighting is taking place and fading out and becoming stripped back when the fight ends.
And even if we discount how well it sells the spirit of adventure and its technical mechanics Tunche‘s soundtrack is a damn fine thing to listen to. With many of its songs being almost instantly catchy. Residing in the back of your mind pleasantly. The art and soundtrack, like the gameplay and story, is finely crafted and together it all gels to create a game that the developers should be proud of.
Tunche was Reviewed on PC with a key provided by HypeTrain Digital.
(This article features videos by GameTrailers).