The Critter Chronicles falls short of its predecessor due to technical issues, heavy asset re-use and some very silly puzzles.
Overall, it’s not a bad game. The graphics are pretty, voice acting is adequate and there are some good jokes. However, the game confuses obscurity with challenge. As a very experienced adventurer, I feel comfortable in asserting some of the puzzles in this game make absolutely no sense. A good example is a costume-making puzzle, which is a pretty neat reference to a classic game, but there’s really no way of predicting what your actions are going to result in. In many cases, you do things because they’re thematically “right” - the game clearly expects you to. It would’ve been much better to have character explain their difficulties more clearly, since often they just shrug and you have no idea why they’re not doing what you want them to.
The co-op puzzles are also problematic. You sometimes have to walk the game by the hand, and sometimes instead of letting you do what you want, you need to get the characters to figure it out, instead of acting out your intent by controlling the characters.
Critter is a pretty awful character, like in the first game. He speaks in stupid gibberish, and on several occasions you have to exhaust a nonsense conversation for something to happen. It’s like a dialogue puzzle, except without making any sense whatsoever. He’s also used as an excuse to get away with blatant asset reuse, since he has several noises and animations he uses over and over again.
The interface is not well thought out. If you’re controlling Nate and need something Critter has, you need to switch to Critter, give Nate the item, then switch back. That’s way too many clicks and unskippable animation for something as simple as using an item another character is holding.
There is one sequence which is like an expanded version of the alchemist’s maze from TLJ. However, its bizarre geometry confused the game engine, and forced me to replay a section when Nate’s position got de-synched and he started clipping through screens and his inventory became inaccessible. It was also pretty ill-designed, with one obstacle having no organic cause whatsoever, just to prevent Nate from reaching a certain screen.
All in all, at its core it’s a good game. However it has far too many issues to get a higher mark. It’s also rather short, clocking at a little under 6 hours including the time wasted on exhausting the same four screens over and over again. I estimate about five hours of pure gameplay, which is not enough for the price.
Time Played: 2-5 hours