The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles

Posted by Matt Barton.
First posted on 15 June 2013. Last updated on 29 July 2013.
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The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles
Ma'Zaz is determined to hold Nate prisoner.
The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles
Both Nate and Critter are playable characters.
The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles
Painting can be a tricky and exacting exercise.
The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles
Nate encounters a wacky animal rights protester.
The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles
The yeti seems to be ready to boil Nate for dinner.

The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles Digital Deluxe Edition

The Digital Deluxe Edition (also known as Collectors Edition) includes, in addition to the game, a soundtrack, a making-of book, and a collection of "behind the scenes" and "behind the voice recording" videos of the game.

The game is available at Zodiac.

The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles is a traditional point-and-click adventure game from German developer King Art Games. The game is a prequel, rather than a sequel, to The Book of Unwritten Tales previously released by the same developer. However, players do not necessarily need to be familiar with the original to enjoy this prequel. The game is a slick, highly polished adventure with lots of fun dialog, puzzles, and humor. I recommend it to any gamer who enjoys humorous classic adventure games to the likes of Simon the Sorcerer or The Secret of Monkey Island.

The main characters in this game are Nate, a rapscallion, and Critter, a fuzzy little alien with a big heart. When the game begins, Nate is aboard a hijacked airship, being chased by a female orc bounty hunter named Ma'Zaz. Ma'Zaz has little tolerance for Nate, and the ensuing battle ends with Nate's airship crashed onto an arctic land. There, he finds a crashed spaceship full of odd little aliens, including an awkward but likable little alien named Critter. Although Nate and Critter cannot speak each other's language, they find their paths converging and have to work together to complete their missions. Further, Critter's selflessness and affection for his sweetheart gradually begins to rub off on Nate. Indeed, watching the friendship bloom between these unlikely partners is a great part of the game's appeal. Nate and Critter must defeat the evil warlock Munkus, who is trying to force the aliens to build him a machine that will enable him to take over the world. They also have to deal with yetis (or at least a deranged lunatic who thinks he is a yeti), an animal rights activist, and even talking paintings.

The puzzles in this game are mostly inventory based, usually involving combining disparate items to overcome a particular hurdle. For example, combining a horn, adhesive tape, and a Mardi Gras trinket results in a "funstrument", which makes an odd sound to lure Ma'Zaz. While the particular item combinations needed to solve a puzzle are not always apparent (or even logical), players will discover them soon enough with straightforward trial and error that often leads to hilarious results. There are also several puzzles that rely on teamwork between Nate and Critter, during which players can switch between these characters in order to accomplish the needed tasks. Among my favorite puzzles is a sequence that involves Nate dressing up Critter in a funny disguise. The game is loaded with self-deprecating and self-referential humor, and it will certainly make any longtime adventure game fan chuckle at the absurd yet wry remarks about the genre's many conventions.

The only puzzle I have found to be tedious is a painting sequence in which players must attempt to duplicate a painting of a wine bottle and grapes. I have to repeat this sequence over a dozen times before finally getting it right.

The developer has done a good job with the interface in this game, minimizing the tedium found in so many other games that share similar mechanics—double clicking will cause the active character to run, dialog can be skipped, and pressing the spacebar will reveal all of the hotspots in the current scene along with a clue. Although some of the puzzles are more challenging than others, I am able to get through all of them on my own with enough patience.

The audiovisuals in this game are a pleasure to behold. The graphical style is cartoony, with 3D models that are more detailed than those in more casual adventures. The animation is quite good, with smooth and realistic character animation and facial expressions. The voiceovers are done quite well and are performed with convincing intonation. Thankfully, although the game's original dialog is in German, the English translation in this port is excellent. The music is well executed and sets the proper mood.

All in all, The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles is a great prequel that lovers of classic point-and-click adventure games will enjoy. I laugh out loud (or at least chuckle) at most of the game's jokes and gags, and I find the game's characters (especially Critter) to be easily likable. As a whole, the game is slick and polished in its production. I highly recommend it without hesitation.

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