Scribblenauts Unlimited has been racking on my brain since I finished it about two weeks ago. “Is it good?” “Is it… not good?” I really can’t seem to make up my mind. While there’s no doubt that I enjoyed a good portion of my time with it, some of its flaws are very troublesome. Its ideas are ambitious, but is it really worth anyone’s time?
The whole premise of the game is having the power to type in the name of [almost] any object and have it appear in the game’s world. Players then use that power to solve puzzles. For example, you visit a hospital in the game and see a sick person. You can type in the word “Doctor” and the summoned doctor will make the sick patient well. While it is really neat to see so much interaction between so many different things, it doesn’t make doing variations of the same thing over and over again any more fun.
Typing a boat into existence for a man looking off a pier who wishes to travel, giving a young man a bouquet to give to his date, once the novelty wears off the game becomes very repetitive. And in most cases, the game really isn’t designed to cater to the player’s imagination. For example, I decided I would try to do one of the puzzles incorrectly. In a museum, I was tasked with adding objects to wax-displays that would complete the scene. One of the wax mock-ups featured Benjamin Franklin on a stormy night. Obviously the game wanted me to give him a kite, but I settled with handing him a dead mouse. As soon as I gave it to him, the mouse popped out of existence and a kite popped into his hand replacing it. While some puzzles do have multiple solutions, I was often met with this “we’ll solve it for you!” punch to the gut.
That isn’t to say there aren’t any positive things to say about Scribblenauts. It’s visually charming and beautiful to boot, and it’s all built around fun and unique gameplay. Scribblenauts even had me chuckling at a few of its jokes. But a game like this requires more variety, and ultimately more effort.
Perhaps it all has to do with your console of choice — maybe PC just isn’t a good platform for the game. While on a 3DS people may play the game in short bursts, I was able to complete the PC version in two short sittings. But then again, I’m not sure calling it a mobile game meant to be played in short brusts is to the game’s credit. Considering games like Angry Birds bring entertainment in short bursts for only a dollar, while Scribblenauts Unlimited will cost players $30.
All that said, the game does have a very specific audience. Scibblenauts Unlimited is very much a kid’s game. While it is certainly possible for adults to enjoy it as well, with it’s cutesy art and innocent charm it very specifically caters to children. And for those interested in it for it’s unique “type it into existence” mechanic, the main gameplay elements do work very well despite a lack of variety. So to those who are thinking of purchasing this game for a child, you can consider this a recommendation, but to those who would rather have a more varied experience — your money is better spent elsewhere.