reviews\ Nov 9, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Lemony Snicket

The Lemony Snicket series of irreverent children’s books have been experiencing an insurgence in popularity recently, with the new film coming out based on the first book, A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Now, in an effort to capitalize on the upcoming movie, Activision is releasing a game based on the upcoming movie that stars Jim Carrey.  The game remains quite true to the subject matter of the books, following the film’s lead and bringing true life to the characters and the story.  However, the gameplay is a bit on the light and simplistic side, which may appeal to younger fans of the books but not likely to impress more seasoned gamers.


Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the exploits of the Baudelaire children (Klaus, Violet and Sunny) who have recently lost their parents in a fire.  Newly orphaned, the children end up in the care of Count Olaf, an actor with a penchant for the hammy.  However, things are not all wine and roses with the Count, as he makes them live in a dank attic room and forces them to perform slave-like chores, clearing the Count’s home of rats and spiders and the like.  As they explore the manor, they begin to uncover some clues that show them the type of person the Count truly is as well as unravel the mystery surrounding their parents’ deaths.




In A Series of Unfortunate Events, you take control of each of the three Baudelaire children in order to complete your quests.  Switching control between Klaus and Violet, you must use the inventions that Violet creates in order to progress on your journey.  These inventions can be created by searching through the mansion for various parts and collecting them, building them into a weapon or a device to aid you as you go.  These can be used to defeat the enemies in the game, which are mostly composed of rats and other such vermin.  The youngest child, baby Sunny, has her own little mini-quests that she can progress through.  These missions are presented on a 2D plane, and often involve her chewing through posts and other objects in her way and going through simple jumping puzzles.


There are a few other exceptions the gameplay rule in A Series of Unfortunate Events, like the certain missions that require you to find a collection of objects in a limited time period or rhythm based music missions where you have to play a piano and hit the corresponding buttons on the Xbox controller at the right moment.  There’s even the occasional stealth mission that requires you to sneak around the grounds of the castle and steer clear of lights to escape.




The graphics are very good.  The environments are teeming with all kinds of nice detail, making the game a very faithful representation of the look of the film and the feel of the books.  The character models have a nice cartoon-like quality and the framerates move quite solidly.  The only real problem with the graphical presentation is the camera, which can become quite cumbersome at times, disrupting the gameplay.


The voice acting, featuring Tim Curry as the narrator (Lemony Snicket) and Jim Carrey reprising his film role as Count Olaf, is spot on, adding a great element to the sound department.  The music is also very good, setting up the atmosphere of the game and establishing the mood.


A Series of Unfortunate Events is not a difficult game, and most of the action sequences can be a little repetitive and simplistic, but youngsters and fans of the books should definitely give it a look if only for the cool aesthetic and sharp humor of the books. 


Review Scoring Details for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Gameplay: 7.5
A Series of Unfortunate Events features a great sense of atmosphere that captures the feeling of the upcoming film very nicely.  The gameplay features a good share of mini-games, but too much of the main quest devolves into simple scavenger hunt missions where you must find hidden items to progress.

Graphics: 8.0 
The game does a great job of capturing the look of the book-based film and has a great amount of detail, with elements like tree branch shadows swaying slowly in the wind and excellent lighting effects.  However, the camera angles can be a bit of a pain, getting caught on objects quite frequently.

Sound: 9.2
The sound effects for the game are great.  The voice acting is excellent, featuring Jim Carrey in his film role as the detestable Count Olaf.  The score is also very rich, keeping nicely with the game’s feel. 

Difficulty: Easy 

Concept: 9.0 
A Series of Unfortunate Events does a fantastic job of emulating the wry sense of humor found in the books and stays very faithful to its subject matter.

Overall: 8.0

While much of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events succumbs to repetition and scavenger hunt missions, the game sticks true to the books and the film and should impress fans of either.


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