Get your young ones into nursery rhyme murders.
I must admit that the announcement of Sony’s Wonderbook left me rather underwhelmed. Book of Spells, the Harry Potter set first title for the peripheral was just not something that I would be interested in and, to be honest, I just couldn’t see anything else in the pipeline that would make me want to sit in front of the TV with an AR book, waggling the PlayStation Move controller. I could not see that it would get any more interesting than the further adventures in wizardry. But then I would never have imagined myself assisting in the investigation of Humpty Dumpty’s murder. Life can be strange sometimes…
So, In Wonderbook: Diggs Nightcrawler, the player steps into the beautifully realised Library City, where they are encouraged to team up with the private detective Diggs for a nursery rhyme meets film noir adventure. Although obviously aimed at the younger audience, the developers at Moonbot Studios done a great job of ensuring the tale in Diggs Nightcrawler will hold the interest of all age groups, whether playing or just watching the fun.
Humpty Dumpty has been murdered and the player, along with the entertaining Diggs, will begin their quest to solve the murder. But in a world filled with nursery rhyme characters, including the no-nonsense three little pigs detectives, it is not going to be straight forward. The tale twists and turns, as the player encounters re-imagined versions of characters they will already know, to its conclusion. Arriving at this conclusion brings up possibly the only fault for the game, the length. This is a short adventure in Library City, and even with playing through the game multiple times for different trophies, the player can expect to be through within only a few hours.
However, much of that sting can be taken off thanks to the wonderful presentation in Diggs Nightcrawler. The game is polished to near perfection and allows for a real immersion by the player. The film noir aesthetic that runs throughout provides a certain level of grittiness in fitting with the tale and taking the edge off what could have been oozing with cuteness. Even the well-chosen soundtrack enhances the immersion by ramping up when the action gets going.
But the real star of the game is the Wonderbook itself. As I said already, Book of Spells did nothing for me and left me feeling uninterested in the future for the AR peripheral. But in Diggs Nightcrawler, the Wonderbook actually takes on more of a controller function, rather than just emulating a book.
The Wonderbook will have to be twisted, tilted and turned throughout the game, and the movements all felt natural and intuitive. Rotating and tilting the book to view things from different angles in the course of your investigation is really impressive, and it shows that there are more possibilities for the peripheral beyond what many may have already thought.
Besides the different uses of the Wonderbook itself, the Move controller is used at times as a magnifying glass, which is fun. The whole thing is put together very well and works pretty much seamlessly.
It was such a shame when the adventure was over. The short length is a problem, but the game is aimed at children aged seven and over, so appealing to the shorter attention spans is probably a good idea. Diggs Nightcrawler is priced at only £13.99 providing the player already has the Wonderbook, Move controller and Eye, which makes it much more appealing.
Wonderbook: Diggs Nightcralwer is both well-made and well-executed, and is sure to be entertaining to anyone who sits down and plays it through, if only for a short time. But, perhaps more importantly, it seems to have opened a realm of possibilities for the future of the Wonderbook and has left me eagerly anticipating future Wonderbook releases.