The Spiderwick Chronicles Review
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a game that closely follows the plot of the movie on which it is based. So closely, in fact, that it won't let you stray at all from the sequence of events of the movie and doesn't give you any room to explore its world on your own. If you're a big enough fan of the movie or book that inspired it that may not bother you too much, but everyone else will probably wish that there was more of an actual game here.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is the story of the Grace family which is forced to move into the family's abandoned Spiderwick Estate after a divorce. One of the family's ancestors, Arthur Spiderwick, uncovered the world of faeries and goblins while living at the estate, and he transcribed all of his knowledge into the Spiderwick Chronicles. When the book is discovered by the Grace children they open themselves to the world of the magical creatures, but along with the beautiful faeries and helpful brownies come the malevolent goblins and ogres and other stuff of nightmares. You won't find yourself lost if you haven't read the book or seen the movie because the game does a pretty good job of conveying the storyline through cutscenes created with clips from the film. Of course this means that if you're planning on seeing the movie then you'd better do it before you play the game or you'll spoil the movie for yourself.
The game is primarily an action-adventure style game, but there's not much challenge on either side of that coin. The adventure portion has you collecting and combining various items to solve puzzles and move the plot forward, but not much thought is required in this exercise. There are a relatively small number of usable objects in the game and they're all pretty much out in the open from the get go, although you won't be able to pick anything up until it is needed. This means that you're basically told when to use what, and you know where to find everything when its time comes. While this eliminates the tedious trial and error that often accompanies adventure games and their plethora of objects, it also manages to take every last drop of challenge out of the game's puzzles. The developers may have been trying to make things easy for younger gamers, but if a ten year old can play his way through a Zelda or Mario game I'm sure he can handle some simple adventure game puzzles on his own.
During the course of the game you'll have the opportunity to play as each of the three Grace children. When they're not solving the game's rudimentary puzzles they're slaughtering hordes of goblins, and even though each has his or her own weapon of choice the battles in the game are simple click-fests. Find a goblin, click on the mouse button until it dies, move on to next goblin. As you can imagine it gets to be repetitive pretty quickly.
You'll also have the chance to play as the film's friendly house brownie Thimbletack and when you do the game switches genres from action-adventure to platform. Just like the adventure portion of the game it's very hard to fail at the platform sequences, which have you scurrying around inside the house's walls while fending off cockroaches with sewing needles. Jumps are pretty much automatic to the point where you actually have to put some effort into missing one, and the cockroaches seem to be perfectly happy to hang back at a distance waiting for you to impale them. Thimbletack also has the habit of saying everything in rhyming couplets, which depending on your disposition is either incredibly cute or terribly annoying.
The game does have one original feature, though. You can capture fairies to provide various boosts such as temporary invulnerability or increased health. Capturing them involves scooping them up and then creating a sketch of each one each time you capture one. This can be a bit tedious the umpteenth time you've done it, to say the least. Unfortunately the rest of the gameplay is too simplistic to really develop and take advantage of the fairy power-ups, though.
The final recommendation on this game is the same as it always is for games like these: Spiderwick Chronicles is best left to the true fans of the book or movie.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 60%. Sometimes simplistic gameplay can make for a really fun game. This is not one of those times.