Scribblenauts Unmasked Review: Holding out for a hero
The Scribblenauts series are among the most polarizing games in terms of how they make you feel. On one hand, they fill you with a sense of awe and wonder, as you type in literally any word you can think of, and see it manifest on-screen in front of you. On the other hand, the games boil down to rather simplistic platforming mechanics, if you can call them that, and leave much to be desired in terms of gameplay. Does adding in a bunch of DC Super Heroes fix that formula?
A strange team up
It's somewhat of an odd pair up, especially considering that the DC Universe is largely darker than say, the Marvel Universe. Seeing the dark and brooding Dark Knight team up with the colorful cast of Scribblenauts might seem out of place at first, but they made it work.
The story is lighthearted enough, featuring Maxwell's evil doppelganger on the loose once again. Maxwell and his sister Lily are whisked away to the land of DC heroes and villains, and partnering up with iconic heroes like Batman, Superman and Flash.
The words will empower you
Like in previous Scribblenauts games, using the power of Nouns and Adjectives will save the day. Need to get up on that building to save a damsel in distress? Type in 'wings' and attach them to Maxwell. Or perhaps you'd rather fly up in style using a jet, or a helicopter, or Pegasus. The freedom of how you want to go about solving and playing the game is completely open to you, and is one of the series' biggest strength's.
Introduced in Super Scribblenauts, adjectives add a much needed layer of depth to the game, allowing you to modify nouns in crazy amounts of ways. Want that T-Rex to be tiny and pink? You can do that!
Since the DC Universe is obviously highlighted here, you'll be rewarded with using various DC related words. There are a plethora of DC characters and items to spawn, and even the most hardcore of DC fans will surely be surprised by the inclusion of them. The team went above and beyond with including even the most minor of characters, and that's pretty freaking awesome.
Throughout your romp across many iconic DC locations, you'll find a plethora of challenges, as well as story based Missions that progress the store. The challenges are rather genius and give Unmasked an unrivaled sense of replayability due to the fact that they constantly change. Even if you completely clear an area, upon your return, you'll be greeted with completely new ones.
Of course, some of them are completely mundane like fixing a broken car or giving a basketball player his ball so he can dunk it. The game does reward you for creativity, however, and using the same word in a level will reward you with less Reputation (the game's currency for unlockables).
To mix things up, Mr. Mxyzptlk will give you devious challenges that will double your Reputation, and they will surely test your creativity to the max. Asking you to start all words in a given letter with a specific letter can be maddening. The challenges are completely optional, but the rewards are largely worth it.
Platforming is still wonky
Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, one of the biggest complaints, and something which hasn't really been addressed in any of Scribblenauts games is the awful platforming. I understand the character movement and mechanics are tied down to the game's ability to spawn anything and everything, but I still wish more care was given to how the character moves.
It's certainly not aggravating enough to ruin the game by any means, and if you're a DC fan, you have more than enough reasons to jump into Unmasked a have a great time.
Whether you're new to the series or you're coming from the fun Scribblenauts Unlimited, Unmasked has a lot to offer, given its plethora of challenges and the equally impressive number of ways to solve them. Teaming up with the very PG friendly DC heroes adds to the charm.
[Reviewed on PC]