Wonderbook is a fantastic innovation by Sony and more parents with younger kids should know about it. The problem is, I’m not sure they do. It's a shame really because with the release of the Digg’s Nightcrawler, the second 'book/game' for the device, Sony have really hit the augmented reality nail on the head. It's fun, it's got a great story and best of all it really works.
Developed by the award winning Moonbot Studios, the story sees you help a detective known as Digg to investigate a crime after his friend, Humpty, is pushed from a wall. It's a real mix of fairytales and nursery rhymes, with some well known detective stories thrown in for good measure. Complimenting this is a noir-style design that really works well with this mix of influences, giving the game a real Private Investigator feel which draws you in and makes you part of the story.
What's great about Digg's Nightcrawler is that even though the story takes centre stage, it's not to the detriment of the gameplay. Throughout the tale you'll find yourself immersed in the action as you tilt, shake and turn the Wonderbook in order to help Digg solve crimes, escape from criminals and find clues. The experience is so natural and instinctive to control, while the instructions are so clear and precise that my children had no issues at all when following them.
It has to be said that PlayStation Move doesn't seem to be leaned upon as much as it was in the Book of Spells. Instead the Wonderbook is your main tool as you tilt pages to swing lights, move the book from side to side in order to escape pursuing cops and rotate the book to change scenes. There are certainly plenty of clever mechanics which will have you grabbing the first person you see just so that you can show off this book as it comes to life. For instance you'll be amazed the first time the game asks you to rotate the book, with one scene quickly into another, like some sort of rotating 360 degree theatre. Or when Digg finds himself tied up and you need to tilt the pages in order to burn the ropes to free him. There are just so many scenarios like this, each different and offering something new to impress you.
You never seem to take your hands off the Wonderbook throughout the whole game, yet it never seems to mind providing that you keep the Wonderbook in view of the camera, and it has to be said that not once did my daughter encounter any issues, even though she was exaggerating every movement she made with the Wonderbook.
What's most impressive about Digg's Nightcrawler is the graphics. He we have a dark, noir-style world that somehow still manages to appeal to children. The characters are friendly and likable and while at times the world manages to take on a darker streak, it's family friendly enough to keep the children playing as they do their best to help out their new friend, Digg.
If there is one real drawback to Digg's Nightcrawler then it's probably that it's not the most challenging game in the world. Another drawback is that it's not really a very long game, taking just a few hours to complete the entire three chapters. Saying that though, if kids like a book, they generally return to it on more than one occasion and given the quality of the story here, I'm sure that's what will happen here.
The main test of quality when it comes to a children's game is whether they stood up and walked away after five minutes or if they stayed rooted to the spot until the final credits rolled. In this case it was that latter, so that tells you everything you need to know.
(Version Tested: PS3)
+ Great design
+ Fantastic story
+ Will keep children hooked
+ Works brilliantly
- Only around 2-3 hours long
- Not very challenging