After the bland trip to The Last Resort, Muzzled is a much needed return to form for the Wallace & Gromit point-and-click episodes. It’s by far the closest the series has got to nailing the spirit of the original animations, with a proper villain, lots of fun contraptions, and a stronger level of puzzles. They’re still very simple, in fact this is probably the easiest game so far, but the extra dollops of foreshadowing and repeated themes help to tie them into the narrative. Fish flavored ice-cream, anyone? It’s useful stuff, and makes perfect sense in context.
As ever, the recurring human characters are the least interesting, even if this episode gets much more out of them than last time. Stealing the show are a trio of nervous kleptomaniac dogs whose shaking and quivering goes somewhere beyond adorable. Most of the episode is spent controlling Gromit as he tries to rescue them from conman Monty Muzzle, and it’s good to see him get to be properly heroic instead of simply fixing Wallace’s latest mess. The new location, a village fair, is also pretty good, with plenty to do, if not much in the way of new ground to cover.
It’s a shame this couldn’t have been the first episode, and followed by three stories building off it. Four games at this level could really have been... er... the monkey’s nuts? The cat’s pajamas? What’s the most appropriate phrase? Two of them, anyway. Great big dangly ones.
Aug 14, 2008