There’s a great example of this right at the start, where you have to repair a Rube Goldberg machine by finding the missing parts. It sounds like a perfect puzzle, and the idea is solid. It’s just that it begs to be replaced with some kind of basic Incredible Machine type sequence where you actually get to make your own crazy contraption out of household parts. Likewise, the sequences where you play as Gromit quickly fall prey to one obvious problem – he’s mute, and only gets specific animations for the cutscenes and success animations, leaving him with just head-shaking where quips normally go.
Most of the puzzles are decent enough though, with some great individual sequences. A shooting bit is particularly fun, as you defend Wallace’s house using the porridge gun and a number of impromptu garden traps, and there’s plenty of using and abusing of other inventions scattered around too. The writing keeps it all very amiable and playful, especially the stereotypical bickering couple, and one puzzle that could be solved in five seconds if Wallace wasn’t too embarrassed to draw his female neighbour’s attention to an important inventory object nestled out of sight in her prim cardigan.
That said, none of the sequences have much in the way of drama, with Telltale still seemingly terrified of giving their villains any clout. Compared to the likes of Feathers McGraw, Preston, or even Piella, a handful of apathetic, if admittedly giant, bees really doesn’t cut it as a threat. It’s just a little too laid-back for its own good, even when everything kicks off.
This is easily fixable though, and the signs are good. Fright may not be the most exciting adventure ever made, but it’s a more than solid starting point. Telltale handled the aesthetics with aplomb, and three episodes remain in which to polish off the rough edges and hopefully squeeze a few more dynamic stories and characters out of its virtual plasticine factories.
Available for download from Telltales' website.
Apr 6, 2009