Who hasn’t dreamed of being able to jump inside their favourite book, living out the events of its pages as if it was real? That’s the plot of The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales, a fascinating adventure that revolves around author Etienne Quest. Set in a bizarre, alternate world, Quest has been banned from writing for 30 years as punishment for committing an unspeakable crime. But a mysterious phone call comes with the news that his sentence could be removed: all he needs to do is complete five particular jobs.
Those jobs? To travel into five different novels, grabbing an important item from each. Good thing that Etienne Quest has the ability to travel into books, then. It’s quite a handy skill to have, and jumping into these books transports Quest – and us, the players – to five very different worlds. The first is a medieval prison with a twist, where we need to steal an invincibility potion. The second sees us land on a snow-capped mountain in front of a power station where we need to steal Thor’s hammer. Other novels will see us travel to sci-fi spaceships and more.
In the real world, The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales plays out from a first person perspective as we explore Etienne’s apartment and immediate surroundings. But as he jumps into a book, that changes to a top-down perspective. The game plays out a little like a point and click adventure: you can interact with items, and you’ll need to gather certain things in order to solve puzzles. But there’s also some turn-based combat thrown in for good measure. It’s pretty rudimental, but battling strange foes at least adds a little danger and tension to the proceedings.
The first mission, which saw us enter a medieval prison to recover that potion, took around 45 minutes to complete – which included some backtracking as we figured out what to do. There’s nothing too taxing here as hints are readily available when you need them. Those hints are perhaps a little too obvious – the puzzles that The Bookwalker presents aren’t exactly Discworld-level obscure – but we’re glad that help is there if we need it.
We’ve not played through all of The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales yet, so there’s a chance we’ll have the answers we seek by time the credits roll, but we’re hungry to know more about the real world of Etienne Quest. There’s hints of a fascinating, dark world and it warrants spending more time in. So far, we’ve only seen the insides of Etienne’s small, oppressive apartment and the hallway where we asked a neighbour to borrow a sledgehammer. Did we mention you can take items from the real world to solve the problems inside a book world? A pretty neat feature.
The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales is, so far, a very refreshing game. It’s unlike anything we’ve played before, and its mixture of genres ensures this is a fascinating adventure that’s going to keep you playing. We’re certainly intrigued to play more, if only to find out more about Etienne, his world, and what heinous crime he committed to be banned from writing for 30 years.
The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.