Diggs Nightcrawler is the latest edition to the Wonderbook series. The first being Wonderbook: Book of Spells based in the world of Harry Potter by JK Rowling. The augmented reality books have been slow to attract the numbers needed for developers to really get their teeth stuck into. It’s one of those conundrums where creating a blockbusting game doesn’t pay dividends by merely dipping your toes in the water yet it is understandable given the huge investments required in production.
This game plays out as an investigative story where you are ‘partnered’ with bookworm detective Diggs Nightcrawler who is trying to solve the murder of his best friend Humpty Dumpty. Set in a film-noir environment you must help Diggs solve the mysterious crimes in Library City where each page opens a unique scene in which to interact and study.
Initially framed for his friends murder Diggs chases a shadowy figure across the city meeting many well known story and nursery characters along the way. In order to progress you are tasked to assist Diggs by manipulating the Wonderbook in many ways. It could be something as simple as turning the book around to see what’s on the other side of a door, or tilting it so that a light shines in a dark area or even folding the book so as to allow to objects to interact where they were too distant before. The book is made up of many different mini physics based games that allow you to get a glimpse of what the augmented Wonderbook is capable of, one of my favourites was the ‘whack-a-mole’ type game where you had to tap monkeys poking their heads through trapdoors.
The AR mechanics worked very well for the most part, where the only time it struggled was if the book was moved out of Eye camera shot. There were also some ‘noise’ tasks that I struggled with where you were tasked to shout when it was safe for Diggs to move (statues type game), the issue with this was that I found that the mic often failed to pick up the required noise of either clapping hands or shouting. Luckily there is a back up for this where you can push the x button on the Move controller.
For the majority of the game all you need is the book to progress, in this aspect the game is fantastic. Although I had my Move controller close at hand it was rarely needed. The game is also very forgiving of mistakes, you can generally play the game in one walkthrough (of around 3 hours – a bit more for younger gamers) where you will never ‘die’ and it will continue until you either progress or decide to have a break and come back later. It will likely need some adult supervision for the younger children who may need help from time to time but generally I think should do fine. Once you have completed the three chapters you can replay with the unlocked ability to take photos and videos of your adventures using the Move controller. This adds a little more gameplay to an otherwise short adventure.
I enjoyed my time with Diggs, and played it through in one sitting. The occasional mechanical issue although slightly frustrating never stopped me from wanting to continue. I was surprised at how short the game was but then when you look at the price tag you can’t really complain at $39.95 it’s a bargain where blockbusting titles often play out at around 7 hours and cost in most cases three times as much. It seems that Moonbot Studios have created a little gem of goodness that may give the Wonderbook the reboot it needs and allow fans to build a library of augmented brilliance. [8.5]
Platform: PlayStation 3
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Moonbot Studios