|Ghost of a Tale|
|release date||March 2018|
|Genre||Adventure Game, Action, RPG|
Indie games of various genres flooded Steam. And although among them there are very good projects, they are mostly associated with something simple and budget. Ghost of a Tale stands out from this background, as the game has a solid gaming foundation and shows a beautiful picture. This is a one man project. Lionel Gallat, who previously worked as an animator in Hollywood studios, decided to create his own virtual adventure, which he managed to do with the involvement of several additional developers. The game managed to visit early access and a few years later got to the full release in March of this year. And while this is one of the many indie games that can be easily missed, it’s clearly not worth it. Ghost of a Tale is an amazing fantasy adventure that definitely deserves attention.
Tilo the minstrel mouse is imprisoned. He is in a gloomy dungeon guarded by guard rats. The little mouse needs to run himself and save his wife. In this he is helped by a mysterious well-wisher who left a note and a key to the cell. But the escape from the cell is only the beginning of a long journey.
The game immediately captivates with a beautiful art style and lively animation of a furry character who carefully examines everything around and convincingly reacts to any dangers. And the very first dialogue with the pirate frog pleases with excellent humor. The gameplay is based on stealth, and at first it all comes down to the fact that the hero is hiding and avoiding dangers. The little mouse slowly steps past the sleeping guards, steals keys from his belt, hides in drawers, inspects the rooms and looks for a way to the yard.
Here we are waiting for a meeting with a blacksmith who is always ready to sell information for a couple of florins, and communication with other heroes of this story. The characters in Ghost of a Tale are few, but each plays an important role. Each character has his own story, his own secrets and his own tasks for the little mouse. Moreover, some characters are in conflict with each other. The mysterious well-wisher does not like the two thieving mice, and the latter reciprocate, urging Tilo to steal something from him.
Dialogues are in text format and are well translated into Russian. The characters are not voiced, but each has its own character, which is revealed through communication. Phrases are complemented by icons with different emotions of the interlocutor. With such a simple presentation, the characters turn out to be alive and convincing. They joke and cunning, skillfully involving us in a dialogue.
The musical talent of the hero will come in handy. Dialogues can often be supplemented by the performance of a song, and a skillfully chosen ballad will allow you to quickly find a common language.
Through various tasks, Tilo penetrates new play areas and expands his knowledge of the local world. The game constantly discovers something new and gives new meetings, and the narrative is overgrown with details. The fairy-tale world has its own intrigues, conspiracies and living legends, which are embodied in otherworldly manifestations. And all this is organically connected by the threads of a single narrative. Therefore, any assignment is of additional interest, because it is somehow connected with this world and its inhabitants.
The tasks themselves are largely based on the search for some items. Using stealth or cunning, the hero penetrates new places and obtains something valuable that allows you to move forward in the story. The game world is small, but it is filled with forks and additional passages. As we play, we open up new routes, which makes it easier to get from one point to another. Somewhere the found key to the door will come in handy, somewhere you can open a small hole, and somewhere a trick will allow you to avoid danger and go directly. At some points, small manipulations are needed. If the mouse cannot reach the hanging key, you can bring a stool and climb on it. They threw a stick into the lever, and he lowered the bridge. In another place they threw a stick at the window — a rope ladder fell.
Stealth works according to simple but clear rules. It is necessary not to glow in front of the guards and not to make noise, moving in short steps. In case of alarm, you can make a dash, run away from the pursuer around the corner and hide in a chest, closet or tub. Such shelters at the same time allow you to save the game.
Rats do not stand still, but patrol the territory along a certain route. By studying their actions, you can avoid unnecessary meetings. At a certain stage, this will become even easier thanks to disguise. According to the story, we will be able to collect the guard’s vestments, which will allow us to act openly. At the same time, this will open the way to the commandant’s office in order to contract for tasks for the rat commander. There are other costumes that open up new plot possibilities and play an important role in the passage.
Our little mouse cannot directly counteract large guards, but in a difficult situation, you can resort to auxiliary means. You can distract or stun the rat by throwing a can of oil or a bottle at the victim. Somewhere you can push a barrel at the guard, although the real interaction with the environment is reduced to a couple of moments.
In addition to guard rats in dark dungeons, you can run into aggressive slugs and spiders. And in the dark forest on the coast, there will even be a meeting with revived skeletons. In each case, we use familiar methods, avoiding dangerous encounters. But somewhere you can neutralize the enemy with the help of special items. For example, a spider can be lured into a trap, and exploding cones can block holes from which dangerous cuttlefish jump out.
Mindfulness plays an important role in our adventure. When examining dark nooks and crannies, you can miss an important item or part of the costume. Falling into a trap is also very unpleasant. Traps can be avoided or activated by throwing any object. A lit candle or lantern helps to carefully study dark areas. The most convenient option would be a hat with a candlestick on your head. All this has a certain resource, so the stocks of candles and oil need to be replenished.
An additional incentive in the search is the presence of side tasks for collecting items. For example, you need to collect a certain amount of mushrooms. You also need to set fire to enemy banners and replenish the collection of roses for your wife. Typical elements for an open world game. They do not burden you with unnecessary routine, but they make you be more attentive at locations.
There are no markers on the map, in the search you need to focus on verbal prompts. If the initial guidelines are vague, you can always turn to that all-knowing blacksmith for help. He will find the necessary map with pointers for the appropriate fee. And if there is none, it will give valuable advice or help you navigate the terrain.
The game has a kind of pumping system. Accumulating experience for completing tasks, we eventually get an increase in some parameters. But the main improvements are related to the costumes. By collecting different items of clothing and combining them, you achieve better stealth, increase invisibility or endurance. A full set gives the maximum bonus to the characteristics. Some costumes have side effects. In the heavy attire of a guard, the mouse will not be able to run and jump, and in general it will be fun to move its legs, swaying from side to side.
The visual style and juicy picture immediately attract attention. Ghost of a Tale uses the Unity engine, showing great detail and good lighting.
There is a great play of light and shadow indoors and a dense light effect with voluminous beams that appear at dawn and dusk.
The environment is saturated with relief objects. Tessellation adds volume to the masonry, uneven ground, and surrounding landscape.
Such a picture puts forward quite serious requirements for a video card. Therefore, we decided to test a group of AMD and NVIDIA video cards, comparing their potential at different resolutions. For tests, our standard configuration is used (description here). The standard graphics settings that the game initially offers are selected. This is the optimal configuration for a beautiful image and better performance. Increasing the settings to the maximum is not critical for performance solutions, although on budget models it can drastically drop fps. Game version 7.08.
There was a short run through the courtyard of the prison, where there is grass and trees. This test was repeated several times for each video card.
Below are the results in 1920×1080 resolution.
Even the old GeForce GTX 950 and Radeon R9 270X give out under 40 fps. GeForce GTX 1050 Ti will provide up to 50 fps at standard frequencies. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti unexpectedly performs well, the old one is faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 580. The high amount of video memory will come in handy, since the game easily loads up to 5 GB on older models.
As the resolution increases, the GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 580 move into the category of the minimum acceptable video cards. Top models can provide more than 70 fps. Here we can note a slight advantage of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti over the Radeon RX Vega 56.
With a resolution of 4K, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will surely cope. The performance of the Radeon RX Vega 64 is 42% lower, and this is clearly indispensable without a slight decrease in settings.
If we talk about the possibility of increasing the settings, then in the visual plan, the effect of the detail parameter and tessellation settings is best seen. They improve geometry and detail. The remaining parameters are not critical for the overall perception of the picture.
Acquaintance with Ghost of a Tale leaves a lot of positive emotions and even causes some admiration. This is a complete game system and a fascinating world, assembled from simple elements. An interesting fairy tale story that can be touching, sad and funny. The game captivates with its originality and atmosphere, making you remember the old forgotten definition of “made with soul”. If your heart is not hardened under the weight of the brutal pathos spewed out by game blockbusters, then the adventure of the cute tailed mouse Tilo will bring a lot of pleasure.