The Spiderwick Chronicles is based on the movie of the same name and is squarely aimed at the younger Harry Potter type audience. In game, you take control of the Grace children as the stay in their uncle’s old house to discover all manner of dark secrets, namely a hidden world which cannot be seen by the normal eye. This world is full of weird and wonderful creatures, including an evil ogre who is after their Uncle’s field diary, a book which contains many secrets, if the ogre gets his hands on the diary then this will only spell disaster for not only the Grace’s but humanity as a whole. Obviously it’s therefore up to Simon, Jared and Mallory to stop the ogre and make sure their uncle’s field diary is safe.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a third person adventure game in which players can take control of the three Graces during the game’s story which seems to be based loosely around the movie. What you’ll be getting up to is hunting for items, battling monsters and collecting sprites. Although the game world is fairly small, comprising of a woodland area, the uncle’s mansion, a quarry, some caves and a few other areas; what you are tasked with doing within the areas can take some time. I would imagine more so for the younger gamers in which the game is probably most suited. The general story is fairly simple and at times will have you control miniture character Thimbletack as he scurries through the mansion walls to find items or help the Graces with their tasks. Each of the children has their own theme with Simon who wields a goblin busting spray gun, Jared who prefers a good old baseball bat and the more refined Mallory who is an expert with swords. Combat comes thick and fast and although there is little variety in the goblins, there sure are plenty of them to make your questing more painful.
A big feature of the game beyond the various quests you are given is the collecting of sprites to complete the field diary. Not only is each character armed with a weapon, they are also able to catch sprites using a special sprite catching net. The sprites can be found all over the game world and once collected need to be painted into the field diary. This is a simple timer based mini game which for the most part is easy, although there are some sprites that become fairly challenging. Once successfully entered into the diary you can then use their special powers and re-catch them again as often as needed. Each sprite basically gives you a power up, ranging from increased attack power, additional health, invincibility and much more. The more different sprites you collect, your character’s overall stats increase, which in turn makes your life easier when dealing with the troublesome packs of goblins.
I found that collecting all of the sprites to complete the diary is quite a long process and for the younger gamer will require a fair amount of patience. Like I said the game area isn’t massive but the sprites are well spread out and sometimes hidden in fiendish ways. If you’re a gamer who likes collecting stuff, the this will gameplay mechanic will most certainly appeal.
Graphically the game looks reasonable, although nothing mind blowing.The mansion is recreated well enough as are the surrounding areas, but there’s a distinct lack of lighting effects that could have created a bit more atmosphere. The leading characters are rendered well and move in a realistic manner as do the grumbling goblins. If I was to truly complain about the graphics then it would have to be with some of the low resolution textures on some surfaces which kind of let’s the overall look down.
The sound is of a high standard and I assume features the characters from the movie voicing their respective parts in game. The music is fitting for the adventuring aspects and everything seems to gel together rather well. The only audio annoyance I had was with the repeated goblin sounds which become rather monotonous at best. Sound wise the kids will love the performances and the who nature of the game’s dialog, especially the rhyming wisecracks from Thimbletack.
As already mentioned, the game is fairly long if you want to max out the field diary and complete all of the quests that are presented to you. None of it is overly taxing but merely time consuming. I think the game will last younger gamers a fairly long time, my only reservation is perhaps a lack of variety in the tasks – which seem to revolve around the collection of things. If you are looking for a change of pace from the single player, then there is an option to go head to head (offline) in some multiplayer game types, which should add another layer of fun to proceedings.
For a kids game, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a pretty decent effort in providing gamers with some solid adventuring experiences. There’s not really too much to fault here as the game doesn’t try to be something it’s not. For straight up adventuring that will keep the kids away from nasty swear words, vulgar behavior and gratuitous violence, then this game is the perfect game. For any older gamers, then there’s certainly some fun to be had here, although I feel the game’s simplicity and repetition might be too much for them. I’d suggest a purchase of the game for the younger players as there’s some decent value here. For anyone else or those of you after some fairly easy achievement points, a rental would be suffice.