Tis the season for holiday festivities. A time for joy, merriment, and 24-hour Christmas music that would make some people want to throw their radios out of their car until they’re over for the new year. Some Christmas traditions have lived on such as the tradition of watching Christmas movies from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Die Hard. However, there is one Christmas story that stands the test of time due to there being multiple adaptations and parodies of its classic tale and that is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This year the story is adapted in the form of a hand-drawn Metroidvania fantasy reimagination so let’s find out together whether this story still stands the test of time.
For those who don’t know the story of A Christmas Carol centers around a cynical and greedy old man named Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by three spirits and by the end of the story learns a valuable lesson about the importance of others and becomes less greedy and more giving. At one point during the story Ebenezer witnesses what the game refers to as The Invisible World which is where the ghosts who roam the mortal realm reside, but they can’t be seen or be interacted with by mortals. The reason this is important is because this realm is a primary focus of the game which is set a year after the events of A Christmas Carol. This game’s story centers around the now redeemed and surprisingly athletic Ebenezer Scrooge, who is recruited by a spirit named Eric Fellows who is friends with a young man named Caspar Malthus. Eric took him on a similar journey as Scrooge, however unlike Scrooge Caspar learned the wrong lesson because he was enticed by an evil spirit. Now using his wealth and power Caspar plans to take over London by harnessing the power of the spirits and his security force to run his factories instead of using workers who depend on those jobs. Eric however believes that there is still hope that Caspar can be redeemed so he enlists Scrooge’s help to fight against his forces and free him from the enticement of the evil spirit that influenced him.
The gameplay is pretty basic and easy to understand for those who are familiar with Metroidvania-styled games. There are the basic controls like the attack button being X, A being the jump button, B being the dodge button and the Y button activates the spirit abilities that Ebenezer acquires on his journey from those he helps on side missions. There are also some more advanced controls like pressing the left stick down along with the attack button which leads to an aerial kick. Most of the advanced controls involve using spirits to Unleash powerful attacks against enemies as well as traverse the map of London which will require a lot of backtracking because of its Metroidvania style.
The game also features many RPG elements such as equipment items that can help boost Ebenezer’s combat and traversal abilities. These items can be discovered by either exploring the map and completing side quests or purchasing them through a shop that has many equipment, quests, and food items.
However, while this game’s premise is unique and not surprising since there have been games that have taken folklore/fairy tale stories and given them a unique AAA experience like Lies of Pi with Pinocchio and Alice: Madness Returns with Alice in Wonderland this game lacks proper balancing in terms of combat and traversal mechanics. An example came from my first boss encounter which was primarily just me hitting an enemy while he just stood there after attacking and then using one of my recently acquired spirits to demolish the rest of his health. Meanwhile encountering enemies both spiritual and physical can range from simple to annoyingly tedious, especially since being killed by them can send you back a good chunk of the game if you fail to find and save at a save room.
An issue I had regarding the traversal came in the form of these blue flames that are used to traverse to different areas once you acquire the right spirit some of them were pretty straightforward forward but others were unfortunately very annoying because of how they constantly moved after jumping on them which lead to me having to go back and start jumping from the beginning. There is also the issue of trying to figure out where to go due to the lack of mission tracking. While I’m not opposed to there not being any waypoints I feel like there should be some kind of indicator for side mission tracking that way there is a better way of indicating whether or not you are in the right area or not. On the more positive side, the game’s art style and character models are well designed and the concept is fascinating, but overall the game has a few mechanics that need to be worked out and improved on.
Score: 7 out of 10
Reviewed On PC