Where the Wild Things Are Review

If you were ever a child (and somehow I’m willing to wager that you once were or currently are one), then you’ve likely encountered Maurice Sendak’s award-winning tale, Where the Wild Things Are. Being one of the most acclaimed children’s books of all time, it comes as no surprise that this story of a child’s imagination and anger has been adapted into a Hollywood film. The film, of course, has given rise to a video game… and it’s actually not bad. Although it is in every way a simplistic take on often-recycled video-game concepts and gameplay mechanics, Where the Wild Things Are is still an enjoyable platform adventure that will keep many players — children and adults alike — interested until the end.

As one might expect, Where the Wild Things Are more closely mimics the movie than the original book, but takes plenty of liberties in creating its own original plot. The game is about a boy named Max who lands his boat on the island of the Wild Things. The monsters, with some resistance and a mixture of hospitality and distrust, crown him the “King of All Wild Things,” and enlist his help in escaping the island before it is destroyed.

Where the Wild Things Are

While it is presented as a kids’ game, the tone of Where the Wild Things Are is just a few shades darker than your average children’s title. Max’s relationship with the Wild Things is not all love and cuddles, despite what the game’s “hug,” “dance,” and “roar” buttons might suggest. The themes of anger and loneliness aren’t on display here as in the source material, but players will certainly question whether the Wild Things can be trusted, or if they will just as soon kill Max as exalt him. Watching Wild Thing Island fall apart on screen is also notably less flowery than the average children’s tale. The game’s atmosphere, like Spike Jonze’s film, is somewhat reminiscent of Team Ico’s work, and is peaceful, mysterious, and foreboding at the same time. The score and setting contribute equally to this, with orchestrated compositions playing over desolate island backdrops throughout the adventure.

Gameplay will be very familiar to most players, as it borrows from popular titles such as the Prince of Persia, God of War, and the 3D Mario games. The primary action consists of running, jumping, climbing, and swinging, as well as basic one-button melee combat with a few modest enemy types. Special actions such as flying and gliding are also possible with the help of temporarily equippable items. The controls are generally smooth and responsive, and the lengthier platforming segments full of falling pillars, ledges, vines, branches, and other obstacles are very satisfying. Max’s less-than-Olympic jumping skills will make some maneuvers more frustrating than they should be, though, and the more combat the game adds — particularly the frequent fights with “gunk” creatures toward its later stages — the less interesting things become.

Although exploring the island is an enjoyable experience, it is also a very guided one. The range of Max’s exploration feels very obviously and artificially limited, with only a few hidden places off of an otherwise well-beaten path. The Wild Things’ village is a more open area, but there is very little to do there beyond collecting objects for the monsters. Max will collect items throughout the story segments, too, but the process never feels forced, unlike many other games. By the same token, however, this natural collection process rarely challenges players.

Where the Wild Things Are isn’t about to win any awards for pioneering new technology or gameplay mechanics, but by borrowing from well-established franchises and settling into a genre designed for fun, Griptonyte Games has managed to create a charming film-to-game adaptation that many people will surely enjoy.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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