I finished Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles tonight. It is a well-made adventure game full of jokes and fiendish puzzles and a nice enough story. In short, insofar as I can tell with my limited experience in the genre, it’s a solid adventure game.
And I am SO glad to be done with it.
I started out doing OK. I really enjoyed Chapter 1. Chapter 2 got me a little frustrated but after some time away a few potential solutions occurred to me and I started making progress again. In Chapter 3 I was having fun again and by now enough other people were playing that when I got stuck I could Google my way to a hint. By Chapter 4 I felt like I was doing more Googling than playing, and about half-way through Chapter 4 I ground to a halt. Tonight I found a complete walkthrough and used it to finish the game just so I could feel OK about moving on to something else.
I really want to stress that this wasn’t the game’s fault. Plenty of people are really enjoying Critter Chronicles and if you enjoy adventures you probably will too.
But I just don’t have the stamina for solving one puzzle after another like this. I could feel the frustration slowly building in me. I mentioned that the nice thing about pure point and click adventures is that as a worst case, you can kind of ‘brute force’ your way through a sticky spot by just trying to use everything on everything else.
The more I played Critter Chronicles the more impatient I got with myself and the more I went straight to brute-forcing my way through, and the more I did that the more aggravated I got with little things like the amount of time it takes to switch characters or for the cursor to go from ‘doing something’ to ‘ready for input.’
And by the time I got to that point, I wasn’t even noticing the puzzles I solved so I wasn’t getting that “Aha!” satisfaction from them. I just expected myself to get those and was frustrated with myself for not getting the others. I was in a bad place by the time I found that walk-through, actually angry at the game! (Silly, I know.)
Critter Chronicles isn’t a long game. Steam says I spent 9 hours on it. But I think for me to enjoy adventure games they have to be even shorter than that. I could probably enjoy an episodic game that came out in several parts, each part being 2-3 hours long, and with a few weeks between each part to let my ‘puzzle frustration toxins’ dissipate.
I -could- have just played 1 chapter at a time of Critter Chronicles and then waited a few weeks to go on to the next chapter, but I would’ve been setting myself up for failure that way, too, because the game has a lot of back-references and even in the 6 day time period I spent playing I’d totally forgotten about at least one character who was needed to solve a late game problem. Imagine if I’d tried to go back to the game weeks later?
Anyway, bottom line is, as much as I want to love adventure games, this foray back into the genre has proven to me that I just don’t have the brain/personality/patience to really enjoy them. Better to face this then to be miserable playing a game, right? I still have tons of other genres to love!
One more time though, I want to say if you DO like adventure games, then Critter Chronicles is probably something you’d enjoy! Don’t like my anti-adventure attitude sour you on this title!