Wallace and Gromit are by no stretch of the imagination new characters, and controlling them in Telltale’s four-part adventure series is just as nostalgic as it is entertaining. From claymation shorts to full-length movies to video games, Wallace and Gromit have been entertaining us for years. Telltale’s engine (which you should recognize from Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island) really lends itself well to the duo’s unique aesthetic and makes the game feel like a collection of shorts that you get to control rather than a video game based on those shorts.
Carrying a theme from the shorts through into the games Wallace & Gromit are more prone to solve problems through invention than by simply using one inventory on a piece of the scenery. This not only makes Grand Adventures feel true to the source material but also makes the solutions to puzzles (particularly those in later episodes) feel extremely satisfying. Controls are simple – arrow keys move Wallace, and the mouse pointer interacts with objects on screen which highlight when the mouse is over them. The scroll wheel cycles through inventory items, and that’s it.
So, what are these grand adventures? First there is Fright of the Bumblebees, which is about a get-rich-quick scheme that just plain doesn’t work. This first episode does a great job of introducing Wallace and Gromit to an audience who may be unfamiliar with them. There are outlandish inventions, Wallace wearing his green sweater, Wallace getting into trouble, and Gromit shirking his canine sensibilities to shoulder the load and help his human master out of a jam. Last Resort comes next, and it brings with it a quickened pace but lacks a unifying plot. Grand Adventures’ second episode feels like a collection of mini-episodes itself which keeps objectives short and simple while not sacrificing length. Episode 2 also features some classic “Whodunit?” elements which I enjoyed immensely. In the third episode, Muzzled, you will primarily control Gromit as you endeavor to stop the scheming machinations of Monty Muzzle. It is clear to Gromit that Monty has no intention of raising money for homeless dogs, and getting to know and eventually taking down such a well-written and well-acted villain makes Muzzled my favorite of the season. The finale, The Bogey Man, sees you finally leaving Wallace’s stomping grounds of Wallaby Lane. Muzzles may be my favorite of the series due to its narrative, but Bogey Man has the best puzzles of the four.
Telltale did a great job with Wallace and Gromit. The four episodes are obviously related but manage to stand well on their own. Inventory does not transfer from episode to episode so it is not necessary to play all four parts, but it is recommended just because they are all so fun. Grand Adventures’ only real flaw is that there is not a lot of replay value, but I am comfortable chalking that up to genre shortcoming more than anything else. If you’re a fan of adventure games or Wallace and Gromit then the entire season belongs in your collection.
Plays Like: Sam & Max seasons, Tales of Monkey Island
Pros: well-written, well-acted, feels like an interactive Wallace and Gromit short
Cons: no replay value
ESRB: E for everyone – seriously, everyone should love Wallace and Gromit