Monday, December 10, 2012

The Critter Chronicles: A Review

The Critter Chronicles is a game that takes a strange, lovable character from The Book of Unwritten Tales and gives him his own adventure that takes place before Critter meets the rest of the cast.  It also tells us a little bit more about the critters as a… people?… as well as Nate.  It’s $15.99 on Steam right now, but be warned that it’s a shorter game that took me about thirteen hours from start to finish on hard.  Let’s take a look at how it measured up to the original game and what it’s all about.  

The Characters

 Nate Bonnett has just gotten an airship from beating The Red Pirate at some sort of game.  He has no idea how to fly the thing, or where he’s going exactly.  All he knows is that now he’s free to do whatever he wants and somehow he’s going to get rich.  Yeah, not exactly a sound plan.  To make matters worse, he’s also being chased by a bounty hunter that The Red Pirate has sent after him.  We quickly find out that he’s pretty selfish by nature, but not all bad.  After a section of the game where Nate is the main character, we leave him out in the cold and swap to Critter’s point of view.  

If you don't recognize this, you obviously haven't watched The Empire Strikes Back enough.

We find out that Critter is considered a bit of a bother to his tribe. He’s clumsy and his plans never seem to work out quite the way he expects. Critter also happens to be in love with the Chieftain’s daughter. Aww… how cheesy. Anyway, this bit of the game was a little difficult comparatively, as Critter’s dialogue isn’t very explanatory. Throughout the game, I learned that when this little guy said: “Platsch!” it meant “Water”, “Pudalup.” Meant: “Yes.” And that’s about all I understood exactly. His animations and gestures were the most helpful, which was equally cute and frustrating.

Through interesting circumstances which I’ll let you find out on your own, these two end up having to work together to help Critter’s tribe so that they can leave the planet and return home.   

The Puzzles/Gameplay

From the very menu, this game’s system is identical to The Book of Unwritten Tales, which is a great thing.  I loved the easy inventory access that the system had and I’m glad they didn’t change it at all.  The graphics were improved, overall, though there were one or two glitches.  (Which is better than most games can claim)  

I played this game on hard because I consider myself a veteran in this genre.  Amazingly, I made it through without having to read a walkthrough.  Not that I had a choice, seeing as there is pretty much no walkthrough for this game in English yet.  Twice I tried looking for a hint, but to no avail.

Once I had to call in a friend to help me with a bit where I had to paint something.  I had probably spent over an hour stuck on that part, so I admitted defeat.  Didn’t she do a beautiful job, though?

I figured out most of the puzzles pretty quickly, except for the painting bit and one other time.  Sometimes I went back and forth quite a bit before finally realizing what I needed to do, but I think that it was just the right difficulty for me.  If you don’t think you can handle playing on hard, there’s also the normal mode.   

Most of the answers are pretty logical, but some are not.  One of those times when I was wondering what to do next was when I saw a hook above a fireplace.  I told my brother who had stopped a moment to see what I was playing: “Maybe I have to hang a stocking there and wait for Santa Claus to come?”  He looked at me like I had lost my mind, but guess what I did not five minutes later?  

Hung a stocking; Santa came.      

Either I should start writing games or the person who writes these games needs to be my new best friend. 

The Humor

This brings me to my next point, which is looking at how much this game made me laugh. To put it simply: a lot. Jokes were made about Portal, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Monkey Island, Mario Bros., Star Trek, Disney… even Bob Ross. They even made vague references to events in The Book of Unwritten Tales, which, for the characters, had not yet taken place. My mom had to ask me a few times what was so funny because I was wearing my headset and would just start snickering all of a sudden.


No Game is Without Fault

The Critter Chronicles earned a T rating here in the US, which is about right. There were a few lines of Nate’s that were less than saintly, but nothing worse than what was in the previous game.

In Conclusion

The Critter Chronicles was a game that I thoroughly enjoyed, even if it was shorter. The story was fun, the puns were numerous and the puzzles were a good workout for my brain. I can’t wait to hear the news that another game is going to be added to this series and I hope you give it a look. It’s certainly worth it.

Be sure to check back next Monday for my mid-month progress report!

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