Point and click adventures are a timeless way to interact with video games. The lack of deeper gameplay mechanics allows a focus on narrative and problem solving that you do not get from other genres. In this way the games live and die by the world that the writers and designers create.
At an early stage of the game the mixture of characters is plain to see from Orcs to pirates and enchanted Figureheads the character pool allows a deepening story to be played out. This is made even deeper by the playable Critter from the title. At first you control each one of them through their own sections but as the game progresses you can freely jump between them to solve puzzles and progress the story. One of the most noticeable features of the central characters especially, is the humour involved throughout the game. Its light hearted approach make the characters engaging and a pleasure to be around. The humour may not be every bodies cup of tea but comedy is a difficult medium to incorporate into the mainstream and so this game may lose players due to this. However there are a number of references to popular culture like a favourite at the site Star Wars as well as Harry Potter amongst other references that are created to help you fall for this game and it’s central characters. I think the teaser trailer (on the front page post) does a good job of setting up the games comedic sensibility and so a viewing will help guide you.
The puzzles are intriguing as they are a mixture of the usual search and find puzzles mixed with some lateral thinking problem solving. Your inventory is activated by going to the bottom of the screen. Here you are able to choose objects you have found to use to solve a problem, you also have the ability to mix objects to create elegant solutions to the problems the game poses. I enjoy the problem solving part of these games more than the actual exploration sometimes and I hope this continues throughout the game. There is a harder difficulty level as well which makes the puzzles more difficult to solve. Unfortunately as this was the first time I had played a title in this series I played the game in Normal mode. Even though you are able to play the game as different characters I question the replay draw of this game. Once you solve the puzzles the mystery of the game has gone and this is its best feature
Graphically the game is very rich and a lot of time seems to have been spent on the facial expressions of the characters as they speak. Although not LA Noire quality they are a large step up from other titles in the genre. One of my bugbears with dialogue systems does show its ugly head. when conversing you choose a shrunken statement and your character will expand this choice as the dialogue plays out. I do find this as a disconnect from the game, I know it needs to be done to allow for the narrative to play out I just wish they would find another way for it to happen. This however is a personal gripe for which I do not have an adequate solution.
The basic nature of the players interaction with the world comes through the mouse and so the ability to find areas to look is very important. This is handled very well with Icons popping up very clearly for you to see. You also have the ability to press the space to show conversation and interaction points. Although this feels like cheating it is a handy way to make sure you have gleamed the full experience from every location the game has to offer. The inventory however can be a bit fiddly as you have to go to the bottom of the screen to call it up. From there you can opt to choose a tool or even create hybrid tools with which to solve the puzzles. I would prefer a true menu but this system does work it just takes a little getting used to. It just felt a little too clumsy to me but by no means a deal breaker.
All in All I would recommend this game to new players with a great big smile. The mix of puzzles mixed with engaging characters and a good story line show that good narrative can help to drive games to a wider audience. Unfortunately this title does lack in potential replayability (not sure if its a real word) and so it is held back slightly. You will get your money’s worth and the addition of a harder setting should allow for at least a second go. My one word of caution would be to look at the trailers for this game as the humour is its biggest selling point in my opinion but if its out of step with your sensibilities I may suggest giving this one a miss.
4/5 – A fine adventure game and well worth picking up.
Paul wellbeingosteo Fiander
Game and images supplied by Premier comms