Tintin is a young reporter who tends to attract the stories, and mysteries instead of actually having to scout for a scoop.
[Update: Adventures of Tin Tin is now available in the US]
Review originally posted October 26, 2011
A trip to a store can end up as an adventure across the world, and that is exactly what happens in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – The Game.
I am a long time fan of Tintin, and remember listening to tapes telling the tales of the ginger haired hero while building Lego. We go back almost thirty years, and it was with some hesitation that I approached the game. Can it do my childhood hero justice? Can it translate the excitement? And how will it handle the wicked and, slightly unstable, captain Haddock? My answer to all these questions is yes, Yes, YES it can! What I got on my small, and medium screen is the hero of my youth, and it manages to tell the story while retaining the exciting vibe… oh and Haddock is all Haddock is supposed to be.
The biggest achievement by Gameloft is how the game ties different gaming elements together effortlessly. Sneaking around with Snowy, climbing with Tintin, swords buckling with Haddock, timing the taps of a telegraph and the odd spot the object game are held together by brilliant storytelling. I never got the sense that any of the elements were filler material, but rather most of them could easily have been branched into their own games for iOS.
The controls are as varied, as the gameplay elements they control. Most of the game is still a exploration/stealth affair where you use a control stick found in the lower left hand corner. It is highly responsive, and I only had some issues where Snowy got stuck against a pile of sand that took time to navigate out of. Depending on the situation there is also a run, and a stealth button. Other than that the game comes with situational controls that can be performed either by swipe and tap, or accelerometer controls. I prefer touch controls all the way, but it is worth noting that the motion controls also work really well. Most of the exploration/stealth levels have a fixed camera, but there are also levels where you swipe the screen to look around. Other gameplay aspects include crate-dropping puzzles, where you slice ropes to hit boxes or pirates with falling crates. It is a great puzzle addition that feels right at home in the Tintin universe. Finally, the sword duelling with Haddock is worth its own mention. You have three moves that all work really well. Swipe back to dodge, forward to attack and down to block. Sure, the fighting gets a bit repetitive and predictable, but it is really well executed.
As you fight, explore, drop crates and fight with snakes, you will encounter coins spread across the levels. These are easy to pick up by just tapping them, and often they get picked up automatically as you expore. A limited amount of puzzle pieces can also be found on each level. Picking these up is a task in itself, and finding coins in the cinematic makes it even more exciting to watch the story unfold. It is a brilliant way to keep the player on his/her toes during slower section where the characters are presented. Coins can be used in the main menu to purchase puzzles, and the puzzle pieces unlock even more. This means that you get a full-featured jigsaw puzzle game that can occupy a kid for hours. I guess the target demographic is seven to ten year olds.
There is so much to see in Tintin, and I have been playing it from start to end with a big grin on my face. Gameloft has managed to breathe life in my childhood hero, and made a game that feels right at home with the graphic novels. The presentation is excellent, and at times mesmerizing. It looks great on both the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4, and to me it is kind of a surprise. Many games look a bit washed out on the larger screen, but Tintin retains the quality of the small retina screen. It is miles better than the outings from Telltale, and Gameloft shows their muscles again. Great animations, lighting effects, shadow effects are there to enhance the experience. Wiping sand off the visor when riding a camel, or fog from the windshield of a plane is a nice touch, adding to the realism.
The story being told in both in game cinematic, and graphic novel pages is perfect for setting the scene. It also eliminates a lot of loading times. Actually I am surprised that the game is as snappy as it is considering the massive file size, voice acting and beautiful graphics.
The music has an element of old school adventure scores ,that are perfectly suited to the gameplay, and universe of Tintin. All dialogue is voice acted perfectly with an over the top Haddock as expected. At times it is slightly off in the lip synching, but that is such a minor complaint.
I only have two minor complaints about the game, and that is the fact that it is a touch on the easy side. I have not really felt challenged playing though it, and most of the time it allows for trial and error to solve puzzles. The other complaint is the linearity of the game. I am not sure that there is that much reason to replay the game once beaten. Still, I was entertained completely for the hours spent as Tintin, Snowy and Haddock. Though I do wish the Thompsons had more to do with the story, as I miss their clumsy antics.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is by far one of the most complete gameplay experiences you can find on iOS. It has drama, humour, action, stealth and a swearing captain. With a brilliant fluent mixture of gameplay elements, Gameloft takes my childhood hero into a new era. If you are a fan of Tintin you have to get this, and if you are not familiar to the antics of our young reporter you still have to get this. It is easy to get into the story no matter if you spent your youth reading the graphic novels or not. Brilliant Gameloft, brilliant!
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – The Game £4.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Gameloft S.A.