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Game review: The Wardrobe – plenty for old-school adventurers

Despite its impressive cartoony visuals, younger gamers will find this 2D point-and-click’s sarcastic humour and tongue-in-cheek narrative just a bit too weird, too often

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 8:01pm

The Wardrobe

C.I.N.I.C. Games

3.5/5 stars

For thirtysomething PC gamers, their early years were probably spent playing point-and-click adventures such as Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Indiana Jones and King’s Quest.

Each was defined by a particular sensibility, but all shared a few characteristics: tongue-in-cheek stories, sarcastic humour, brain-teasing puzzles and beautifully chaotic 2D visuals. The Wardrobe (available for PC and Mac) is a love letter to that era, a game pays homage to the height of point-and-clicks. Almost too much, at times.

Originally released by an Italian development team last month, the game has only just received its English translation. Players take on a teenaged skeleton named Skinny, a Grim Fandango-like bag of bones. Now you’re doomed to search a small town for your best friend Ronald, in order to save your long-departed soul.

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It’s a good concept, and one that feels like an ideal fit alongside those old adventure games. But The Wardrobe also suffers from being a little too attached to its obsession, often mimicking, instead of aiming for innovation.

The best old-school adventure games always melded surreal elements with an involving narrative; Wardrobe instead overloads every aspect with the weird, often just for the sake of it. For example, when solving a puzzle, it’s not so much about how to find a solution, but how an adventure game would expect us to.

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That lack of intuitive behaviour almost removes players from the game’s natural flow, though it never ruins it completely. Working in its favour are the game’s impressive visuals, a cartoony combination of strong character designs and comic book-like backgrounds. And while things sometimes get lost in translation from Italian to English, the story is generally intact and involving.

The Wardrobe is a bit of a hard sell. If you’re a younger gamer, or never played adventure games back in the old days, there may not be much here for you. But those who still sneak in a couple hours of LeChuck’s Revenge or Fate of Atlantis will find plenty to love.