Wallace and Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort
Wallace and Gromit have returned to bring their interactive antics back to home audiences. After a very promising debut in Episode 1, this second episode in the planned tetralogy has been appropriately titled “The Last Resort”. Like its pleasantly simple point-and-click predecessor, The Last Resort features a very accessible gameplay engine that is suitable for all ages. The playable character is manipulated with the arrow keys, while the cursor is controlled with the mouse. Aside from clicking the left button to select an object, the right mouse button can be utilized to skip through conversation dialogue, while the mouse wheel doubles as an easy scrolling device to select an item from the inventory.
While there was certainly no shortage of excitement in the first episode’s thrilling conclusion, The Last Resort’s opening scene seems even more intense than the previous episode’s climax. Since the family-friendly dangers of West Wallaby Street do not present any real danger to the characters, I must say it is impressive just how much tension is evoked from certain scenes. It’s nothing that will give kids nightmares, of course, but the presentation is rather impressive in its ability to generate atmosphere within a relatively confined physical space. The dingy, dusty basement is remarkably transformed into a sunny seaside resort, while Wallace’s soothing bedroom becomes an unsettling lair for a pair of perfidious pooches. The developers are to be commended for their ability to achieve so much within the game world.
One of the primary problems that plagued the previous episode was that the puzzles sometimes became frustrating. Sure, characters would drop hints and words of guidance if the objectives weren’t being accomplished quickly enough, but this was of limited use to the player. As such, it would not surprise me if younger players found themselves frequently stuck during gameplay. Fortunately, the Last Resort seems to have improved greatly in this area. The problems and puzzles may not always have obvious or practical solutions; however, this is what makes them entertaining and rewarding. Fortunately, the solutions do make more sense in this latest episode. Sudden insights will make players grin as a character mutters something interesting, or a familiar object is put into play. The result is a massively improved gameplay experience.
Rather than attempting to piece together a narrative from a series of zany events, The Last Resort is divided into a series of delightful chapters, each with its own distinctive tone and amusing situation. I won’t spoil anything in this review, but adventure fans can expect to see Wallace and Gromit take on everything from clever puzzle solving to a good old-fashioned “whodunit” throughout the course of Episode 2. Thankfully, playing the previous episode is not required for the narrative to make sense to the player (This is not Empire Strikes Back, after all). However, loyal fans of both the games and series will notice the occasional homage or cameo that will surely bring back fond memories.
On its own, The Last Resort stands rather nicely. It is chock-full of amusing dialogue, brassy musical cues, and attractive clay-like graphics. As a game, it is substantially improved over its predecessor, and offers plenty of variety and amusement for both hardcore fans and newcomers. While the replayability of Episode 2 is somewhat limited due to its single-solution design, the overall experience is simply too much fun to pass up. Any fan of adventure titles will find Wallace and Gromit: The Last Resort to be well worth the money.
Eight out of ten