Tunic brings back game manuals with a clever play on Zelda 2 nostalgia

Tunic is full of good ideas, but its best feature is a collectible, half-legible manual that teaches you valuable lessons while filling your heart with nostalgia.

Finding and scanning new pages of the manual is a key part of Tunic, as our own Sam Loveridge said in her preview of the game, which can fairly be described as the cute Elden Ring you didn’t know you needed. The pages are mostly written in a fictional language, but the images and some trace notes give you just enough information to help you out in meaningful ways. 

The illustrations in the manual have drawn comparisons to the old Zelda manuals, and as Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab) reported in September 2021, that’s no coincidence. Creator Andrew Shouldice explained that the manual for Zelda 2, in particular, was a big inspiration, to the point that some of Tunic’s art could pass for Easter eggs. 

I thoroughly enjoy how much The Legend of Zelda inspired Tunic. One of the coolest bits in Tunic is the instruction manual pieces you find throughout the game.The inspiration really runs deep. The comparison is from Zelda II’s NES instruction booklet. pic.twitter.com/qie4uwJYgtMarch 24, 2022

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With Tunic now out in the wild (on PC and Xbox), intrepid adventurers from all around are gushing over the engrossing and compelling throughline that the manual provides. Search for “tunic manual” on your social media platform of choice and you’re sure to find a bottomless well of excitement, plenty of it coming from other game devs, with many calling Tunic’s manual a brilliant and economical narrative tool that blends tutorials with graphic design to great effect.  

Diehard players have even taken it upon themselves to translate the entire manual, parsing alien glyphs one at a time or straight-up printing a physical copy for their shelves in the absence of any official merch. In an era of digital manuals that just don’t hit the same way the ones in game boxes used to, Tunic’s found a way to turn its manual into a must-have. 

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