Telltale Games is slowly bringing the adventure genre back into the mix. Services like episodic content on the PC and Xbox Live Arcade have given the developer a chance to deliver pockets of content at affordable prices, giving gamers a chance to experience a complete narrative in bite-sized portions. The latest example of this comes to Xbox Live with the release of the next three chapters in the Wallace & Gromit series, which is known on the PC as Grand Adventures. The quirky and humorous dialogue mixes with traditional point-and-click adventure gaming to create one of the most entertaining packages available on the service.
For anyone unfamiliar with the series let me give you a quick rundown of what to expect. Wallace & Gromit is a popular claymation show that stars and absent minded inventor named Wallace and his companion Gromit who is an anthropomorphic dog that expresses himself through expression rather than words. The games follow the same type of humor and writing as the acclaimed British TV short, and are often heralded for their witty humor. The premise of the game will be familiar to anyone who played a lot of PC titles in the past. Point-and-click adventures used to be the FPS of the PC world. Wallace & Gromit reintroduces that trend along with a few of Telltale’s other recently released titles. The gameplay focuses on solving puzzles by interacting with objects and people within the environment. It is amazing how well this holds up after so many years.
The final chapter in the Wallace & Gromit series is definitely a nice piece of closure to the overall story, and once again focuses mainly on one character. This outing follows closely behind Wallace and much like the previous entries continues to prove that the team at Telltale Games know their stuff when it comes to adventure game storytelling. This time around a local country club is in danger of being shut down and thus leaving Wallace no place to play golf. The duo must figure out how to keep the club open within 24 hours or it will shut its doors forever.
Once again the storytelling is very reminiscent of the show and if you read my previous reviews of the other episodes you know what to expect here. The characters are as lively as you would imagine from the world including my personal favorite Duncan McBiscuit. In addition to having one of the coolest names his Scottish accent and look make him one of the most unique and entertaining characters in the entire package. After reviewing all of these episodes I continue to have appreciation for the humor and work of the series as well as Telltale’s way of delivering it into game form. If you enjoy good humor and a dry wit this series is a must own, and thankfully there are demos for us all to try out before taking the plunge and buying them all at once.
The puzzles in Bogey Man are a little more frustrating than previous versions due to the fact that they mostly consist of trial and error scenarios. This is a deviation from the previous outings that had more straightforward puzzle solutions and in turn will likely extend the life of your journey through the game. The previous chapters could be raced through in roughly two hours whereas this latest one will take you a solid 5-6 depending on how clever you are at solving these puzzles. Problem is some of them are so obscure that the answer is not always as obvious as you might think.
Everything else is par for the course with the XBLA versions of the series. The frame rate is still bogged down more than it should be, but the visuals outside of that are fantastic. I continue to love the claymation motif more and more as I play them. The voice work continues to be outstanding and the environments and settings for this outing are better than part two but not quite as interesting as the third episode. Overall I am content with the presentation, but that frame rate still annoys me quite a bit.
The Bogey Man is a fine way to end the series and outside of the usual complaints and trial and error puzzles it continues the excellence of the series so far. Fans of adventure games that have not tried these out on PC really need to give their XBLA counterparts a whirl. The humor and storytelling make these some of the best adventures on the service and definitely worth checking out if you are in the mood for some classic point-and-click action.