Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since 1989, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Wallace & Gromit. All made in claymation, the several short films of the eccentric inventor, Wallace and his dog Gromit, received critical acclaim and a full feature film was released some years later. Telltale Games are the masters of reinvigorating life back into popular IP’s and so they added Wallace & Gromit to their arsenal, alongside CSI, Strong Bad, Sam & Max and more recently, Monkey Island. The Bogey Man is the last in the duo’s capers for Season One and although I haven’t played the other episodes, each episode is fairly self-contained, tied together by some small narrative threads. The Bogey Man is a great adventure in it’s own right, in true Telltale style. This time the story focuses on Wallace and Gromit’s venture into the wonderful (and scary) world of golf.
Wallace finds himself in a sticky situation when he learns that his next-door neighbour, Miss Flitt, mistook him for proposing to her in the last episode. Doing anything but talk his way out of it, Wallace enlists Gromit to help him find a solution. After a bit of snooping, Gromit finds out that Miss Flitt’s grandmother, another Miss Flitt, will not permit her to marry under any circumstances if he belongs to the local country club, Prickly Thicket. And so the pair end up walking into problem after problem, soon finding themselves having to solve the mystery of the Prickly Thicket lodge. Wallace also has his fair share of trouble in handling a golf club for the first time. Why he couldn’t take the easy way out in the first place is completely beyond me!
As in Tales of Monkey Island, using the WASD keys will move Wallace or Gromit around. Again, interacting with objects and characters using the mouse. You will switch between both of them at specific points during the game and they each get plenty of play-time. It wouldn’t be Wallace & Gromit without a range of inventions now would it? At their disposal includes an eaves dropper, clue finder and an old favourite, the techno-trousers – although this time outfitted as a golf caddy!
Umm gee, I think Wallace might have a plan… perhaps.
The British (and a bit of Scottish) voice acting in this game is top notch. Wallace has been voiced by a very good sound-a-like, played by Ben Whitehead. He completely convinced me! I was about to say how wonderful it was for Peter Sallis to reprise his role until I compared the actor’s names afterwards. Gromit of course is played by none other than – had you there didn’t I? Gromit can’t speak remember!? Which is a bit of a nuisance when you’re so used to your adventure character mutter something along the lines of “I can’t do that”, Gromit will merely shake his head in disappointment. The quirky humour the series was famous for is encapsulated throughout this episode, which makes it a pleasant play through. I probably laughed a bit too hard at Wallace’s accidental golf puns. The many inhabitants of Wallace’s home town makes it feel like a real living, breathing place. The town’s environments are pretty to wander around in and although the game isn’t made in claymation, it’s very close to it.
The puzzles are the bread and butter of any adventure game and I’d have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the variety on offer here. One of the hardest was collecting a gold key. It required a bit of work and a fair amount of logical thinking. I actually needed a pen and paper to figure it out! Although a tinsy tiny part of the game, the sliding puzzle at the end was appalling and just felt slapped on. Just one other niggle stood out for me, the size of the inventory. You collect a fair size of paper clues during the course of your adventure which clog up your inventory and make it a bit of a bother to navigate through. Telltale could fix this in future episodes by consolidating them into one slot or even widening the Inventory like in Tales of Monkey Island. That is if there will be a Season Two, which I really hope there will be.
Because of the difficulty, unlike the old Xbox Wallace & Gromit games, this one’s not for young kids. Unless your kid is as smart as a button on a well-implemented-Wallace-made-machine. Be wary that it can get a tad boring when you’re stuck but that’s par for most adventure games. It’s refreshing to break away from your action games for something more slowly paced every once in a while. The Bogey Man is a well-made and fun little adventure episode which lets you experience life in Wallace and Gromit’s shoes (and paws).
Released 29/07/09. Download the episode or the entire season here. The first episode already hit XBLA so it’s only a matter of time before The Bogey Man does too.