This week I have been getting stuck into something a little different, my first Augmented reality game and I think it’s safe to say it has been a lot of fun and certainly unique in terms of gameplay, but the most important questions is “should you spend your hard earned cash on it?”.
While the retail price of this game is one thing, I have noticed that a quick google shopping search will find be a copy of Diggs Nightcrawler for around £15, although to play this game you do also require the Wonderbook “book”, which typically comes with the original wonder book game which is typically around £30, the PlayStation Eye camera and a PlayStation Move wand which can also be found at around £30 as part of the PlayStation Move starter kit. While that sounds like a lot, lets keep in mind that the move kit is for many games, not just this one, the Wonderbook pack is a game of its own, featuring a Harry Potter story line and that the game were reviewing today is essentially just a story disc, an expansion for Wonderbook.
Wonderbook is sold as the book with a thousand stories, the book remains the same but thanks to augmented reality tricks it can become any new adventure. In the Harry Potter game it is the book of spells, where as today it becomes the stomping grounds of Detective Diggs Nightcrawler.
The first things you need to do with this game is the setup, it’s nothing too difficult and it requires you to sit through a two-minute calibration, fortunately the whole thing is well explained and you’re talked through the whole thing slowly and clearly. It helps you find the best position for the PlayStation Eye, ensuring that it can see both yourself and the book. The idea is that you sit on the floor, with the book laid out on the floor in front of you. It’s also important to have the PlayStation Move to hand as this can be used to interact with certain objects in the story. The game requires the move controller to function and it cannot be played with the Dual Shock controller.
When the camera locks onto the book and yourself it projects a mirror image of you and the book on your TV screen, only now the book becomes center stage of the story as 3D models appear on the pages, allowing you to turn the book and move the models around.
The story of Diggs is the investigation of who pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall. You’re Diggs Nightcrawler, who is aptly a book-worm (literally a worm) and a detective, smooth talking, dark and mysterious and overall his story is actually quite witty and well written, enough to keep us entertained at least and I’m in my late 20’s.
I had as much fun as my Son (age 7) with the story, likely because he could relate to the classic nursery story characters and the clear dialogue, while I could enjoy the constant bad puns and retorts that litter the story. The graphics are fantastic and there are some very clever camera tricks used to put you into the story, or allow you to use your hands directly on the book to move objects around, take pictures and shine lights using the PlayStation Move.
Rather than think of this as a game, where you control the character, you take control of the stage and the story unfolds by its self. You “help” the story along by turning the book around to rotate the level, allowing you to see around buildings, behind walls, or under things. You can tip the book to help avoid obstacles in chase sequences and turn the page between chapters. Overall it’s very clever and a great way to bring the digital world to the land of story books.
It’s really hard to put into words how much fun the Wonderbook is, the interaction is less than I expected but the entertainment value is much higher than I expect and that’s hardly a bad thing. I found it just as much fun to play as my son did and we’re already eagerly waiting the next installments in the Wonderbook series.
Check out the video below, I know it looks childish but it really is fun to play, plus there are many other stories in the world of Wonderbook to enjoy.
Augmented reality is a great tool for gaming and while I love the occasional game on the Kinect there is certainly something to be said for having something tactile that you can hold and control, even if in this case it is just a book, while I wouldn’t say you should rush out and buy Diggs Nightcrawler, I would recommend you try something in the Wonderbook series and it’s easily the best user for the PlayStation Move system I’ve seen so far.