In Indie Game HQ’s latest review, James takes a look at The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles by KING Art Games. The Critter Chronicles is the prequel to the very popular adventure game The Book of Unwritten Tales. The game can be bought from many vendors for $19.99, but it is on sale for $4.99 through Steam until May 20th. All the necessary links can be found at the end of the review.
GAME NAME: The Critter Chronicles
DEVELOPER(S): KING Art Games
PUBLISHER(S): Nordic Games
PLATFORM(S): PC, Mac, Linux
RELEASE DATE(S): Dec. 5, 2012
We would like to thank Evolve for giving us the opportunity to review The Critter Chronicles.
The Critter Chronicles tell the story of how adventurer Nate Bonnett and Critter, his hairy sidekick, first met, all set before their appearance in Wilbur’s and Ivo’s adventure in The Book of Unwritten Tales. Enjoy a thrilling and hilarious point-and-click adventure in the fantasy world of Aventasia. Travel from the Northlands to the Mage’s Tower of Seastone and experience a story that offers tremendous fun for seasoned players of “The Book of Unwritten Tales” and newcomers alike.
- Play as both Nate and Critter: You and you alone decide with whom you want to spend more time.
- Meet new characters such as animal rights activist Petra, a schizophrenic Yeti, and the “Critters”.
- Choose between two levels of difficulty: “Normal” (approximately the same difficulty as BOUT) and “Hard” (for true veteran adventurers).
- Enjoy high-resolution backgrounds, improved animations and sounds!
- Real-time lightning of 3d-models and objects (including volumetric lighing)
- Soft raytraced shadows of real-time objects on the backgrounds
- Support of all screen resolutions up to 1920×1200 and wide-screen support
- Improved animations with facial animation and lip movement
- Watch a beautiful and emotional tale unfold in about 10-12 hours of playing time.
- Stand alone add-on to the highly acclaimed “The Book of Unwritten Tales”
The Critter Chronicles is essentially your standard point and click adventure game where interactions and proper item use allow you to progress through the story. The game follows the story of Nate Bonnet, an aspiring captain, and his faithful sidekick Critter, a stranded creature. Being a prequel, the game explains how the two came to be acquainted.
Without spoiling too much of the story, you begin the game as Nate Bonnet whom recently won an airship, the Mary, in a card game from the Red Pirate. Lo and behold the Red Pirate does not hold up his end of the bargain and sends the bounty hunter Ma’Zaz after you. The Critters on the other hand have a problem of their own. Their ship is unable to leave this planet as the evil sorceror Munkus stole their heart. Needless to say Nate Bonnet and the Critters paths cross, and a mutual opportunity presents itself.
The Critter Chronicles is a standard point and click that requires timely interactions and proper item usage to progress. You must use your wits to combine items to create even more useful and sometimes even completely useless items (i.e. cannonball sequence).
At some points the plot was kind of hard to follow due to Critter’s lack of English being the only creature “not smart enough” to learn the native tongue. Despite this you could still guess what Critter says based on the reactions of the other characters he interacts with. Whether the guesses were always 100% accurate remains to be seen. This did not really detract much from the story, instead gave it an interesting change of pace.
Overall, The Critter Chronicles is a fun, humorous game that provides at least 10 hours of gameplay. I found that the game was occasionally very difficult, and I found myself trying every possible item at every location hoping something would work to progress the story. This became even more difficult when you could play as both characters. Each character could use items differently which doubled the possible options when utilizing trial and error. This was limited though as most of the time the plot gave hints as to what your next step should be. The game was never frustrating as Nate Bonnet certainly lightened the mood with his humorous dialog.
Overall, the voice acting in The Critter Chronicles is very well done. There were never any cringe worthy moments that often occur with some characters in games. Every character had an appropriate voice, and they were very diverse which kept it interesting. Even Critter with his random noises had a great voice that was pleasing to the ears.
The sound effects sounded exactly as they should. Each action matched the real life sound perfectly, even the annoying party horn. The background audio blended well with the sound effects and voice acting. Often times you would hear feint music mixing with the sounds of high winds and ratchets. This created an interesting mixture that was never too overpowering and certainly kept the game interesting even when idling.
The Critter Chronicles features beautifully vibrant colors that many games lack today. Overall the art has a very pastel look with rough textures that give it a fun, unique feel. The light and shadow effect of some scenes was very well done and added another level to the art which meshed well with the rough pastel textures.
The animations in the game varied greatly throughout. For the most part they were very smooth, but there would be times where your character would have an awkward pause for no real reason as if he was stuck. These were far and few between, but they were annoying when they did occur.
Down to the Nitty Gritty
Everything in The Critter Chronicles was well done from gameplay to audio to graphics. My only real complaints about the game were minor. Parts of the game that featured Critter were sometimes hard to follow as Critter speaks in a made up language unlike the rest of his cohorts. Aside from that the game is very difficult at times, and I found myself going completely trial and error hoping for some kind of progress. It occasionally got so bad that I would sometimes forget what exactly I was doing and literally try all possible combinations to find a viable option. It is also worth noting that I am absolutely terrible at point and clicks.
Overall, I highly recommend The Critter Chronicles to any fans of adventure games. The game doesn’t really reinvent the wheel, but it most certainly lives up to the hype from The Book of Unwritten Tales. It was nice to see a game pay homage to the LucasArts adventure games of old, and they even had some great Star Wars references that certainly added to the game. The humor of Nate Bonnet added another layer of enjoyment to the great story development and helped endear the player to the character. Even Critter with his unknown language was a very likable character which is a bonus I value greatly in games.
If you are a big fan of the series or the genre, then the price of $19.99 would likely be worth it, but if you are only semi-interested in the game or genre then I would wait for a sale. The game is currently available through Steam for $4.99 until May 20th which is a more than fair price for this game.
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