Review: Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown (PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Optional
  • Move Optional (1)
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
Title: Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown
Format: PSN (1.71 GB)
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Tin Man Games
Developer: Tin Man Games
Original MSRP: $19.99 (USD)/€19.99 (EU)/£14.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Table of Tales was created for nerds like me. It’s Dungeons & Dragons come to life in VR. In fact, its execution caused me to dream about a future when you can play D&D in VR with other players.

But there is so much more to this little VR title than a mesmerizing interpretation of a table-top board game coming to life. The presentation is reminiscent of Jumanji (the movie where the board game comes to life). The premise implies that you have stumbled upon an old box in the attic of your (insert family member here).

The box comes to life and a mechanical bird emerges (she has that Clash of the Titans steam punk vibe). She begins narrating a tale of heroes and pirates, treasure and monsters, as the box explodes into a voxel-like representation of the world she is describing. The overall look is magical, and like most VR games, there is a level of immersion not possible on a television. You can lean in and inspect the little buildings and miniature people and they look great.

Gameplay is primarily focused on grid turn-based combat, but you will make some choices along the journey and select the best character to take on certain tasks based on their strengths.

But it’s the way you figure out who is best for which task that is so unique. Curious about a character’s abilities and stats? Pick him or her up from the game board and place them on a small panel in front of you. A small character sheet will pop up and you can pick it up and inspect their characteristics. Almost every component of the table allows for interaction. Even your map is an actual element you can pick up and inspect.

Once combat begins, Table of Tales employs a Final Fantasy Tactics style of turn-based combat. Using your Move controller (or DualShock) like a pointer, you can pick up the figurines and move them to attack enemies. Each character has a limited range, and indicators on the virtual board will let you know how far you can move per round. Once you decide to attack an enemy, you will use cards (with your abilities listed on them) and place them over the enemy. This, however, is not a card game. Abilities and spells are simply represented by cards, so it makes it visually easier to apply them to the game field.

Things can get pretty challenging, but never impossible. One battle had me completely overwhelmed by giant mosquitos, and I only had three team members to fight them off before they set a mansion aflame. I soon realized that I was never going to defeat them all and simply had to light torches around the courtyard before I was completely surrounded. That type of diversity made for some enjoyable situations that kept me planning and thinking.

As I previously mentioned, in addition to combat, you will have to make story-changing decisions, like volunteering one of your characters to surrender for crimes committed. Often you will have tasks within the arena that take advantage of your character’s strengths, such as negotiating with an enemy by using your most diplomatic character.

The adventure can be completed within a few hours, but there is some replayability in the choices you make, and how you choose to approach certain scenarios.

Visuals:
I think there is something to miniature worlds looking so great on the PSVR headset. Ghost Giant had this super clean look as well. But Table of Tales looks so sharp that you can lean in close to the small world and see all the small details in utter clarity, despite the headset’s almost-three-year age.

Even holding up the figures and cards to your eyes yields some of the cleanest visuals I’ve seen on the headset. One might say it has to do with the smaller world being rendered. Regardless, Table of Tales comes to life with living figurines and voxel environments that compliment a great narrative.

Audio:
Table of Tales is narrated by one voice actress, but she does a fantastic job reading for all the different characters, by changing her tone and delivery for each one.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
I could have never imagined a game like Table of Tales two-and-a-half years ago when the PSVR was released. I thought most VR experiences would revolve around first-person experiences. This very unique game brings a board game to life like never before, and right before your eyes. But it doesn’t rely only on that visual “wow” factor to engage you. A solid, albeit a bit simple, strategy game is present here, with heroes, villains, and betrayal. If you’ve ever played Dungeons & Dragons in your past (or still do), Table of Tales will give you a small glimpse into a potential future for table-top gaming.

Score:

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