‘A rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle’.
The Monkey Island series is possibly the best known series of games in a genre that dominated the ’90s. These days there are very few true Point and Clicks, though King Art have been slowly dragging them back to life.
It took two years for The Book of Unwritten Tales to translate to English, but a prequel has arrived snapping at its heels. The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles. In this game we discover how the two protagonists, Nate and Critter, first met and formed their friendship, though knowledge of the first game isn’t necessary.
The game starts with Nate trying to escape a bounty hunter and in doing so manages to crash his ship onto an ice planet. He is then dragged off to an ice cave by a Yeti in a way familar to anyone who has seen Star Wars. While he’s hanging around, Critter makes an appearance and decides to help him. You play as both characters, individually up until this point when you can then swap between the two whenever you wish.
The graphics of the game are very similar to the first one though this isn’t a bad thing. A colourful cartoon style fits the genre well, perfectly reflecting the comedy and fun atmosphere of the game. The colour scheme is bright and light, akin to that of a Disney film and compliments the sound which has been styled in a similar manner.
The music fits the action on screen well, blending and complimenting fast paced action and slower dialogue scenes alike. The voice acting is also very good, finding the balance between comedic and annoying. No dodgy accents or emotionless readings here.
There are a couple of things that let the game down, though, and the biggest of these is the lack of co-op. In a game with two main characters you would expect the ability to swap between the two to be more integral to the game. The are few opportunities in which you need to use both characters and it makes the dynamic feel a little redundant. The puzzles in the game that do involve the two of them are excellent as well, so it’s a shame more weren’t added. Another slight annoyance with this game is the amount of other popular media it acknowledges: Portal, Star Wars, Harry Potter. After a while this becomes a little tiresome and makes it seem like the writers were struggling for their own ideas.
Overall, however, this is a fun game and very much a traditional point and click adventure. The graphics are up to date but the game dynamics are all still there, down to the random mashing together of items in the inventory. One of the greatest criticisms of point and click adventures is the lack of replayability and of course Critter Chronicles is cursed with this affliction too. There is a ‘hard mode’ that could add another play through, though this experience may be slightly dampened.
The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles is a great game for anyone who grew up playing point and click games, or for someone on the hunt for a different style of game. The comedy and colours will brighten anyone’s day.