Tunic is an isometric action-adventure game that offers no shortage of challenges. The protagonist, a tiny fox in a green tunic, battles brutal monsters and hunts for remnants of an in-game manual to undo the mysterious nature of their quest. Many aspects of the game are reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda series, which developer Andrew Shouldice celebrates through Tunic. That said, Tunic delightfully deviates from its primary inspiration, instead offering little to no direction for what you are supposed to be doing, why you’re doing it, and who it puts you against; something starkly different from Link’s recent quests.
Coincidentally, fans of Darks Souls will undoubtedly feel at home. The sheer difficulty of Tunic’s enemies makes taking down a boss as satisfying as figuring out why you’re fighting it in the first place. In a game with no shortage of secrets, these well-timed boss encounters always feel appropriate, surprising, and consistently challenge you to switch gears and find new tactics.
6 The Guard Captain
When approached from the perspective of a first-time playthrough, the Guard Captain is thrilling. The guard mobs preceding the fight ramp up the difficulty significantly, and you begin to suspect you’re nearing the leader. You even encounter other Guard Captains in later areas, plotting over battle plans or standing guard at critical locations, showing agency on the enemy’s part.
Encountered at the beginning of the game, the Guard Captain is your typical beefed-up version of enemies you’ve previously faced. Their design is a simple recolor of their lackey’s uniforms, with a move set that’s small and straightforward, making it a quick fight to master. Compared to the other bosses, it’s plain easy, simply serving to help you master the game’s dodge timing. But it’s a necessary RPG trope to battle a low-level mob leader, so it feels like a rite of heroic passage for your little fox.
5 Siege Engine
After navigating an ancient vault, you finally approach the treasure you’ve sought, in the grip of a long-forgotten machine in ruins. You try to grab the prize, upon which the device is no longer a ruin and is now trying to kill you. The Siege Engine’s spider-like movements are terrifying, and its design is a juicy piece of lore on Tunic’s world.
The Siege Engine is the largest boss in the game and is visually fun to witness. It displays an impressive array of punishing attacks and a brutally apparent weakness that you still have to work to exploit. The Siege Engine frequently repositions when you finally reach its weak point, causing you to rinse and repeat often. That said, a level of monotony can set in while you’re doing your tenth lap around the massive area with your tiny fox feet.
4 The Garden Knight
To reach an important bell tower, you must traverse through the West Garden: a broken, overgrown landscape dotted with cherry blossoms and flooded with water. Everything you fight here seems manageable, but your in-game manual says otherwise. According to its pages, guarding your goal is an unnamed machine-like being, accompanied only by the footnote, “Will kill you.”
The Garden Knight is a boss that is either incredibly hard or ridiculously easy, depending on your amount of item discovery beforehand. The actual stage you battle on is a decent challenge, proving a tight fit for its bulldog personality, quickly overwhelming you with its fast-paced, distance-closing combos and smooth animations. This fight feels like the first jump in difficulty, and forces you to formulate strategy through failure – an important lesson that carries throughout the game.
3 The Heir
It’s not often that the final boss is entirely optional, but it’s so in Tunic. The Heir is the fox spirit that helps you grow more powerful along your quest, and is wholly benevolent towards you throughout, so fighting them makes you feel conflicted. The Heir has a large moveset, which takes a few tries to fully understand. They’re also the only boss with a second phase, which adds extra effects, sometimes even lengthening the chain of certain combos. In short, they’re tough.
In terms of the story, the weight of the fight is readily apparent, and emotionally lands with the end of your journey impeccably. The Heir’s design is solid throughout the game, and it’s exciting to see them in action; the encounter meets all your expectations.
2 Boss Scavenger
Deep beneath the Overworld exists a vast subterranean complex of black obelisks where the power generating the world above originates. Rat Scavengers have made a mess of the place, mining these fragile artifacts for an energy source that should clearly not be in their hands. At the end of it all, deep within a ziggurat where this dark magic continues to manufacture itself, you face off against the head of the Rat’s operation.
The level design of Tunic’s underworld is beyond intriguing, and your progression through this area leaves you fascinated at every turn. The Boss Scavenger’s design emphasizes this – they’re a tad humorous yet terrifying, and you fight them over a massive field of inoperable automatons waiting for a command. The music is alien, providing a sense of desperation for victory.
1 The Librarian
Atop a high tower, bathed in an evening sun, a tall figure cloaked in black contemplates the realm below. They turn to face you, a glowing sword in their grip. As they fly into the air, the sky quickly gives way to a black, thundering storm. With barely any room for you to run, they blast you with the same dark magic that you’ve come to fear.
As soon as the orchestration for this boss fight hits your speakers, you know it will be an epic duel. The Librarian is the only boss who utilizes spell-casting with as much ease, and the game forces you to employ the same tactic. The setting is dramatic, the character design is flawless, and their move set is unforgiving when paired with the area’s small scale. Though not the hardest, The Librarian is by far the most memorable fight in the game, and you’ll wish you didn’t win, if only to go back and experience its cinematic brilliance again.