Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Minimum requirements: Windows XP / Vista (Vista64 unsupported); 2.0 GHz or better processor; 512MB RAM; 64MB DirectX 8.1-compliant video card; DirectX 8.1 sound device; DirectX Version 9.0c or better
Release Date: Available now
In my review of the first installment of Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures, I paid tribute to the stellar work that the developers at Telltale Games had done in using episodic series to resurrect the adventure-game genre. With the games industry rivaling movies, music and television as a viable pastime, there are many tastes to satisfy out there beyond those hardcore gamers who grew up on a strict diet of first-person shooters and hack ‘em/slash ‘em staples. The fact that Telltale is trying to attract gamers in search of more cerebral pursuits is just part of the story. Their genius is directly tied to their ability to find properties that can flourish in bite-sized portions. They know how to whet our appetites by giving us a few stellar hours with these quirky characters and leaving us hungering for another morsel; which brings us to their latest dish, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures: The Last Resort.
The Last Resort is the second chapter in a four-part series, but these games are purely stand-alone affairs, existing as independent adventures in the lives of whacked out inventor Wallace and his doting canine companion, Gromit. In Last Resort, Wallace has his dreams of an oceanside vacation dashed by a nasty spell of bad weather. Ever the resourceful entrepreneur, Wallace decides to open his own beach resort in his basement. This leads to a series of errands that you must complete to assemble the best vacation getaway a musty basement can offer and attract a steady stream of paying clientele, all of whom have problems of their own that need solving.
As with most comedic adventure games, the story is simply the framework upon which to hang jokes. Players mine a great deal of humor in their interactions with Wallace’s customers, and these interactions generate the various puzzles that are stock-in-trade to these adventure games. Players need to combine items and apply logic to serve Wallace’s master plan and see him through another adventure.
It’s apparent that Telltale has deviated slightly from their master formula for crafting these adventure games. Where the Sam & Max and Strongbad series had stand-alone stories that served as a foundation for layered jokes that evolved across multiple episodes, Telltale has crafted Wallace & Gromit to mimic its cinematic forebear. Here they offer up a standalone adventure that can be closed comfortably with the knowledge that another game brings another unrelated calamity crashing down upon Wallace’s dreams. Similar to the other two series, Wallace and Gromit bring their own unique blend of quirkiness that transforms some creaky genre conventions and elevates them. Sure you’re clicking on your millionth hot spot, but as long as you have a wide grin on your face, the experience is well worth it.
The Last Resort feels shorter than its predecessor, but that could be due to familiarity with the controls (once again built with a console release in mind), as well as puzzle design that employs a bit more real-world puzzle solving and fewer instances of game-developer logic. Of course, with a house brimming with elaborate contraptions, it just might be that the game environment coaxes the player into the right frame of mind to solve these mind benders. The knock against the game is the bane of this genre: Once you’ve solved the puzzles, there’s no point in coming back. And as episodic games are prone to do, this one is over after three or four short hours, leading to another month-long wait until we get the next installment.
Telltale Games is on a roll with these games, and after two installments, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures continue to entertain. Their knack for highlighting specific elements that attracted people to these characters in their original incarnations and bringing them to vibrant life while allowing players to interact with them is genius, and is the main reason these titles are worth treasuring. Adventure gamers have gone hungry for far too long, but Telltale has made sure they’re keeping us satisfied. Please sir, can we have another?