For the past few years the roguelite genre has been dominating indie games. Roguelites have even begun to make their way onto AAA titles like Deathloop and Returnal. As popular as the genre might be, it doesn’t always produce great games. Developer Leap Game Studios newest title Tunche, has some interesting ideas but is far too repetitive to warrant multiple playthroughs.
In Tunche, you play as one of five kids tasked with bringing peace to the Amazon rainforest. To do this, you must travel through the rainforest and defeat the Tunche, a mystical beast ruling over the rainforest. In either single player or co-op, you choose one of the five kids and make your way through the forest, making it further and further with every run. After you choose which character you want to play as, you’ll make your way through several waves of enemies, performing simple combos for as long you can. Each character has a different moveset, but it mostly boils down to button mashing to keep up your combo meter. While each character’s moves are different, they all use the same combos. This makes them feel more like skins than characters.
Once you play enough to unlock more moves, you can add a little variety to the combos. Though this never felt more effective than just button mashing. To spice things up a little, the combo meter adds some effects to your character. Some of the power-ups you pick up will only work when you build up your combos enough. This acts as a double-edge sword though. The combo meter is very difficult to keep up and requires you to constantly keep attacking or the meter will quickly deplete. Being hit by an enemy will also cause your meter to go down. Both of these result in some of the power-ups only working once you get to the end of a fight.
The level design leaves much to be desired as well. Each level is just a different part of the rainforest so everything ends up feeling exactly the same. To make matters worse, there is nothing in the foreground. After beating up every enemy in the area, you move on to the next the area. There’s nothing to interact with and no obstacles in the way. This only adds to the repetitiveness of the combat, making subsequent runs tedious at best. While each run is technically randomized, it never truly feels random. The only thing that is randomized is the rewards at the end of each room. Even then there’s not a lot of rewards to pull from. This often results in each run feeling almost exactly the same as the last.
In between each run, you’ll find yourself at a base camp where you can perform upgrades and items purchases. However, there isn’t much to do in this camp. The characters you talk to feel generic and uninteresting. One of the characters even annoyingly calls you the player, which always felt out of place. The upgrades you can unlock consist of things like base damage and health upgrades as well as combo enders. One of the downsides is that you need to unlock the upgrades for each character separately. This makes progression incredibly slow if you want to try out different characters.
While there are many problems with Tunche, one things it did right was the art. Everything is animated in beautiful hand drawn art style. The characters and enemies have a cute cartoonish look to them. The animations of all the kids give them each a little bit of character, from Hat kid’s childish bounce to Rumi’s nonchalant stance. Each kid also has a their own story to unfold. Each chapter will play out like a comic book as you progress through the rainforest. The art for these cutscenes is beautiful but I found each of their stories to be a little boring.
Tunche tries many things to set itself apart from the other roguelites. While at first combat feels fast and exciting, it quickly becomes repetitive before even finishing the first run. A great art style helps but doesn’t make up for the other shortcomings. Fans of roguelites might find Tunche fun for a few runs, but others might want to pass on this one.
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