With a vast array of great point and click adventure titles launching over the past year or so, I think it’s safe to say, the age-old genre is ‘alive and kicking’. That’s not a phrase you could use to describe the protagonist in the latest of such offerings though, The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition. He’s a deceased and skeletal looking chap who’s on a mission to not only achieve redemption on behalf of a friend, but also to entertain you with old school problem solving. Does The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition manage to pay homage to its ‘90s inspirations and create an enjoyable experience for the modern gamer, or is there room to become even better?
It’s difficult to cast a definitive judgment on The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition because there are plenty of aspects here that fit well with the foundations of the genre. Unfortunately, the puzzles at the heart of the adventure may just be too inconsistent when it comes down to the difficulty. As you’ll discover, the solutions can be rather illogical.
The story begins with two best friends, Ronald and Skinny, having a lovely picnic together in the park. Things take a turn for the worst as Skinny eats a plum, has an allergic reaction, and dies almost instantly. From that moment onwards though, Skinny lingers in the realm of the living; he’s cursed to reside in Ronald’s wardrobe. If Ronald doesn’t open up to someone about what occurred within a five-year period, he’ll be damned for all eternity. The narrative skips ahead and now time is nearly up, thus Skinny must embark upon an adventure to get his buddy to let go of any guilt.
Aside from setting up the end-goal however, the main plot involving Ronald is rather sketchy and very forgettable. Instead, engaging in numerous minor sub-plots is more of a joyous focus throughout as you stumble upon a brilliant selection of intriguing characters to converse with. Characters like a dangerous – some might say killer – crocodile, an eccentric zombie, a delusional king of the dump, a pessimistic guy in a rabbit costume, and many more. The fact it’s fully voice acted as well really helps to bring the personalities to life.
Although not every performance is memorable, it’s good enough where it matters the most; Skinny in particular has a lot of one-liners that have decent delivery after interacting with people and items of interest, often breaking the fourth wall. Laughs are to be expected from the witty comments and certain incidents that play out, but I don’t think it’s as funny as the developers CINIC Games believe it to be and so humour isn’t the main draw here. For that belongs to the ever-present nostalgia, which hits you around every corner and tries its best to evoke your sentimental side.
Quite literally everywhere you look, and occasionally during conversations, there are loads of references to other games as well as films and TV shows. If you’re anything like me then you will make it a personal mission to spot every single one hidden within the location designs. Some are more obvious than others, such as the masks belonging to a bunch of turtles hanging out to dry in the sewers, the Master Chief helmet inside a closet, and a Stormtrooper picture in someone’s hall. Keen eyes will also notice homage being paid to Beauty and the Beast, Fairly Odd Parents, The Sims, Worms, and tons more. Heck, you can even find Pinhead from Hellraiser passed out at a party. It’s a good job the locations are so interestingly designed, because the gameplay is going to send you back and forth like crazy.
Now, I’ve purposely left the point and click side of proceedings until last due to the disappointment surrounding it. Essentially, it plays just like other adventures of this ilk, with you guiding Skinny around by clicking the environment, engaging in dialogue, using items and picking objects up to store inside the protagonist’s chest cavity. Certain items can be combined within the inventory, while others can be dragged into the location to solve a problem. There’s nothing wrong in these foundations at all. There is however an issue to be found in the puzzling predicaments at hand, which teeter between the straightforward and the downright baffling.
During the entirety of The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition, knowing what to do next is something that frequently eluded me. Working out the alarm clock needs fixing to wake up a homeless person, or putting batteries in a flashlight to illuminate an area are actions which make sense. However, mixing sewer water and pills to evolve a pile of dust, or going back in time and falling in a fishing net in order to receive some bubble bath are really not obvious. I’m like, throw me a frickin bone here. The solutions seem so illogical half the time that you’ll either have to fluke it, find a guide, or just get frustrated at not having a clue.
When all is said and done, The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition is only really worth your consideration if you’re happy to seek help to progress because the solutions are utterly ridiculous. As long as that’s the case, then there are great locations full of nostalgia just begging to be seen. The characters within are undoubtedly intriguing and, in a silly way, it’s funny on occasion too. Granted, the main story needs work, but the sub-plots are pretty good and keep things ticking over.
Are there better point and click adventures out there? Without question, yes. But The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition can be the trip down memory lane that’s going to give you a good feeling inside.
The Wardrobe: Even Better Edition can be purchased for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S from the Xbox Store