Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown by Tin Man Games is a clever take on a cross-over concept that blends virtual reality with table top gaming. It offers both single and multiplayer gameplay and is a Playstation VR title well worth diving into.
It doesn’t seem like it’s been very long that I mentioned that a game like Wartile would be great in VR (I did so in the Skyworld review). Here we are, not even a month later, and Tin Man Games has more or less answered my call. Table of Tales (the full title includes “The Crooked Crown” to tie in with the single player narrative) takes a Dungeons and Dragons-like approach to table top games and translates it quite perfectly to the VR dimension.
Controlled with a pair of Move controllers, Table of Tales really is just like playing an actual table top game – but one with some very fancy handicraft to create 3D models, buildings and scenery. With a pair of Move controllers, interacting with the units in this game world is very much like picking up characters in a real table top game – which is a wonderfully immersive situation. The controllers don’t directly translate to hands, but rather wands that can also be extended to reach units that are just out of reach – A Fisherman’s Tale had something similar I think.
Featuring turn based gameplay, your characters all have action points to spend on each turn – which they can use to either move around the map or engage with it somehow, attacking an enemy being the most obvious choice there. Your commands are issued by grabbing playing cards in front of you and placing them on the map – on your character to engage with it or on an enemy to attack. Different cards are introduced gradually, and some are context sensitive to the area you’re currently in. Picking up characters also isn’t just to move them around, you can also move them to the side of the screen to get more information on them – a clever use of VR to get around the often text-intensive nature of complex table top games.
There is some character development throughout the campaign, but it’s not your typical RPG tree where you earn and select abilities. Instead, they get unlocked automatically as you progress, helping the story evolve and keeping the action fresh for the duration of the four or so hours it takes to complete the campaign. There are a few branching points in the story as well, which encourages another replay – but I didn’t encounter anything where I expect something so radically different that I’m ready to dive right in.
Audiovisually, Table of Tales looks a lot like an actual table top game – but individual scenes are often relatively small, as if you’re playing a “pocket edition” of a full sized table top RPG. The game solves this by making the playing board dynamic – it rotates and shifts and then, magically, a new scene is built up in front of you. It’s a technique that makes great use of the fact that this is a digital recreation of a board game, and it works very well in VR. The scenes aren’t as expansive or detailed as those in a game like Wartile, but we all know about the technical limitations of VR.
Besides the impressive visuals, the story is also fully narrated – though it’s done more in a storybook style, where a single narrator (in this case a bird) does all the voicework for all the characters. Combined with the ever-changing environments that all look good, this makes Table of Tales an audiovisual treat to look at.
As a welcome surprise, the game also features a local multiplayer option, where the VR player acts as a kind of evil dungeon keeper who tries to thwart the advance of the heroes – played by up to three players who are in the room with him and playing out their roles on the TV screen. We found that this mode is certainly easier to enjoy if all the players have some experience with Table of Tales, rather than having people just jump in. I suppose that’s a decent analogy for most table top games as well, and in that sense this game is a total and utter success.