23rd Jul2018

‘The Wardrobe’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

The-Wardrobe-screen

The Wardrobe is a point and click graphic adventure based on the journey of the skeletal Skinny and his mission to re-connect with a childhood friend who had accidentally killed him years before by unknowingly giving him a plum which caused an allergic reaction. Set in a zany world FILLED with pop culture references, whilst an enjoyable game it’s oddly side-lined story and comedic approach end up leaving the game feeling slight.

There are lot of things to love about The Wardrobe (the title being derived from the place that Skinny has secretly resided in over the years since his death), the voice-acting is strong and each location is packed with visual gags, well-chosen music (a surprising amount of walking jazz bass, good) and colourful characters. Whilst never being out and out hilarious, the game is consistently amusing and keeps the interest up as you play through. The puzzles however feel quite illogical and sometimes don’t quite ‘click’ even when you solve them. Each puzzle in the game is inventory based, so mercifully there are no crowbarred-in lockbox puzzles or sliding tile moments (thank the sweet Lord) but rest assured, when you look up a walk-through (and you will), quite often the solution will have you raising an eyebrow so hard that you’ll pull a muscle. There’s a case to be said that as the game is so wacky that it makes sense that the puzzles follow suit which I can understand, to a degree. There’s a ‘hot spot highlight’ button in play as well so pixel-hunting (something else that can plague the genre) is not an issue.

The game features a quite astounding amount of pop culture references, some clickable and others casually placed in the backgrounds and whilst these are fun to notice, it does take away from the originality of the game somewhat as there’s only so much mileage you can glean from spotting the 80s film references when they have no real impact. It’s extremely understandable that they are included in the midst of the current (romantised) 80s resurgence prevalent throughout all forms of media. Personally, I think they would have been more pleasing to spot if they weren’t so abundantly used. This isn’t to say that the original characters in the game are weak, there are many people (and creatures) to interact with and all are well scripted and voiced, adding to the game, making the more superfluous conversations still worth a click.

The Wardrobe is a fun game that seems to be aimed at people who either remember or relish cult films and TV. Due to the lack of swearing (apart from one instance) I assumed the game was aimed at all ages (although I could imagine a lot of the references would alienate younger players, another side effect of relying too much on pop culture references and nostalgic paraphernalia) but one scene features a large dildo and a used condom, instantly making it unsuitable for younger players, and they don’t really need to be included as they add nothing but a low-rent visual gag. These points aside, the main issue is the seemingly random puzzle design and an ending that felt rushed. Not a golden shining title, but definitely one to look at if you enjoy a 90s style graphic adventure in the vein of Day of the tentacle.

Right, I’m off to check that there isn’t a deceased childhood friend in my cupboard.

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