[PS5] The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales Review

by EdEN, Owner

The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales from tinyBuild and DO MY BEST is a very unique type of experience on PlayStation. Find out more in our The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales review!

The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales from tinyBuild and DO MY BEST is a very unique type of experience on PlayStation. This indie and publisher combo previously gave us the post-apocalyptic 2D adventure The Final Station, in which you use a train to save passengers in a dying world, so The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales is certainly a different experience. This is a game that I was intrigued by after it was revealed during the 2021 tinyBuild Connect, so I was very much looking forward to playing it!

You’ll be taking on the role of Etienne Quist, a once-acclaimed writer who ends up losing his ability to write after he’s found guilty of an unspeakable crime. Your property is confiscated, and you also receive an eviction notice. Things are certainly not going your way! You’ve been sentenced and have been shackled, which imposes the aforementioned writer’s block on you. To work off your full sentence, you must register with a licensed publishing agency. If you decide to remove the shackles by any other means, it will be considered a violation of your sentence, with dire consequences. You’re told as much by way of a notice from the City Writers’ Police Department.

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Looking to find a way to reclaim his lost status, he ends up taking an offer from a crime boss that asks him to steal legendary items… from books! Since his shackles are to remain on for 30 years, you can definitely see why Etienne is desperate. You’ll dive into some interesting literary work thanks to your special power that can bring stories to life. Each book that you visit will offer a different setting, a different objective, and a different set of rules to consider. Do you have what it takes to redeem yourself? Are you up for the challenge?

The game is split into two different segments. When playing in the real world, you’ll explore from a first-person perspective, interacting with objects and other characters, similar to how you’d do things in, say, a walking simulator. But once you dive into a book, things can go in some very different directions! Just like each book that you’ve read in your life offers different literary genres with a variety of stories and twists, so does the gameplay in The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales stand out between the books that you dive into. Switching from a first-person perspective to an isometric perspective helps you to switch into a new mind frame as well.

Take, for example, the first book in the game. I promise I won’t be spoiling things too much, but talking about this book is a must in order to properly convey what you’ll be experiencing. Once you receive a briefcase at your apartment, you’ll get ready for your new facet as a thief. First up is A Drop of Infinity by Jonathan Bowers. Your task will be to infiltrate the book to extract a flask of a magical potion of immortality. Once you jump into the game, you’ll start in a jail cell next to a skeleton. After landing on the solid stone floor, your knee twists in a weird way.

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This will present to you the first choice in the game: do you leave your knee as is, or will you use some ink to heal yourself? Ink is one of the valuable currencies in The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales. If you don’t heal your knee, you’ll have lower hit points for this book. But if you do heal your knee, you might not have enough ink to change something down the road that could end up being even more important than your own well-being.

As you explore each area, you’ll be collecting a variety of items. All items will be added to your inventory and will be split into the available categories. You can grab some healing items, items that can be used for crafting, quest items needed to, well, complete quests in order to move the story forward, as well as what the game kindly refers to as junk items. Junk items might be junk, but they can still be useful! You can recycle them to extract a bit of ink from them, which can save you in many ways. And if you find a healing item, you can take care of that knee injury, right?

You won’t be able to solve all puzzles right away. Going back to A Drop of Infinity, since you’re in a jail cell with a closed door, you will need to find a way to open up the lock to escape so that you can explore the rest of the book. Maybe if you had a lockpick on you? It’s then that the game allows you to wake up to return to the real world since Etienne remembers he might have something like that at his apartment. Lo and behold, as soon as you turn around, there will be a lockpick just sitting there on a chair!

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As mentioned before, some of the items that you collect can be used to craft something useful. Find the right items and put them to good use at a workbench to get something useful. The first thing that you’re going to need is a crowbar since you need it to open up a closed hatch. Just go to the workbench and set the aptly named crowbar parts as well as the generically labeled tools to get it done. A workbench is also where you can extract ink from the items that the game labels as trash.

A couple of rooms after finding the workbench, you’ll run into an enemy, and this is when The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales will change from a point and click adventure into a turn-based RPG! The actions you can perform while in combat will change depending on what book you’re playing through, as well as how much ink you have on you. You can decide to slash at an enemy to deal some damage, spend a turn trying to drain some ink from it or try to stun it. Your enemy’s next action will be displayed above it so that you can prepare and plan accordingly. To stay alive, you will be able to use healing items once per turn. Check how much health each item in your inventory can heal you for, and then make the most of your choice!

You might be wondering, what’s a giant spider doing in a book like A Drop of Infinity? It turns out that said spider is an entity known as an ink eater. That means it’s not part of the book you’re exploring, but it can appear in a literary work to, well, eat up its ink. The older the book, the more likely it is to have some ink eaters for you to worry about. Ink eaters can take many forms, so who knows what you’ll end up running into as you jump into other books?

Trophy-wise, this one is a Cross-Buy title, so if you own a PlayStation 5, you’ll be able to download both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game, with each one having its own trophy list with a Platinum at the end of your journey. Each list will include 23 Bronze trophies, 10 Silver trophies, and 4 Gold trophies for you to work on unlocking. There are trophies tied to completing the game’s different books, as well as the story’s epilogue. Along with those, you can get trophies for using items in dialogues, using ink in dialogues, crafting items, blocking damage, draining ink, and finding all collectibles. There are also some trophies that are mutually exclusive, so you’ll need to pay attention to the choices you make along the way.

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The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales is a fun narrative-driven adventure on PlayStation 5. As you take on a very dangerous gig to steal artifacts from within books to gain your freedom so that your writer’s block shackles are removed, you’ll run into deadly creatures that will consume all ink around them… along with your soul! As you solve puzzles, you’ll also have to battle against dark entities that devour tales inside out. How will your journey end? The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales is available as a Cross-Buy title, so your $14.99 purchase will allow you to download the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game at no extra cost.

This The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by tinyBuild.

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