Anyone who’s played the charming Tunic knows that it’s a little cryptic. There’s an immediately nonsensical language to try and decipher, for one thing. Then you’ve got an in-game manual that’s been pulled apart, with pages strewn around the world to find before you can figure out how to do everything your little fox is capable of. Well, now audio designer Kevin Regamey has explained a whole other secret side to Tunic, and it turns out the game’s soundtrack hides a whole other language.
Spilling the beans via a Twitter thread, Regamey delved into how players could discover Tunic’s audio secrets, and how they can be decoded. It’s probably best to be aware there’ll be some spoilers involved, so do take care.
“Early in development, we imagined the game having a 'voice' of sorts - a voice that the player was not equipped to interpret,” Regamey said. “SO. I designed a musical cipher - heard throughout the entire game, but never acknowledged.”
Tunic’s mysterious written language of "Trunic" is phonetic, Regamey explained, with its characters generally representing paired consonant and vowels. Figuring this language out can lead players to the Glyph Tower, which directs them to this website. Download the site’s audio and view it in spectrogram mode, and Tunic’s secret audio language is revealed. These are composed of glyphs too, but correspond directly with pentatonic arpeggios. Regamey says players have dubbed this audio language "Tuneic".
Regamey’s audio shenanigans with Tuneic require a little music theory to understand perfectly, and I’m about as musical as a windchime in a microwave, so I’ll spare you any long-winded, botched explanations. Essentially, the arpeggios are the musical equivalent of the game's written Trunic language, hiding 'words' throughout Tunic’s soundtrack. Here are some examples:
Anyway! “Tuneic” shows up all over the game.— Kevin Regamey (@regameyk) October 20, 2022
It’s in UI sounds, like when you start a new game: pic.twitter.com/HQRzi9apgj
Finding a secret directs your attention: pic.twitter.com/rSYhBvAXbj— Kevin Regamey (@regameyk) October 20, 2022
And of course, the door in the mountains: pic.twitter.com/QvJ5HFop7L— Kevin Regamey (@regameyk) October 20, 2022
We ranked Tunic among our favourite games of 2022 so far back in the summer. Brendy (RPS in peace) thought the game was a lovely homage to classic Zelda games in his Tunic review. “If this plucky fox 'em up flatters-by-imitation too much, it is only because it has examined its reference in its entirety. Like an overhanging camera view, Tunic sees Zelda from the top to the bottom. It is a tribute well-paid.”