Skull ‘n’ Bones
Death is very morbid affair, isn’t it? In video games, death is – more often than not – the end of the road. Game over, press start to continue. But sometimes, death is just the beginning, and that’s precisely how The Wardrobe starts off. Our protagonist Skinny is enjoying a peaceful little picnic with his buddy Ronald when he unfortunately succumbs to an allergic reaction to a piece of fruit. A plum, to be precise. Ronald flees in sheer panic, never to speak again, and after hours of his body lying in the grass (seriously, Ronald didn’t inform anyone in that time?), Skinny is miraculously reborn as a walking, talking skeleton.
The story begins with Skinny emerging from his wardrobe (which, by remarkable coincidence, is shaped rather like a coffin), and the tone of the game is made clear immediately. The narration that sets the scene and acts as a gameplay tutorial is genuinely funny, particularly when Skinny himself joins in for a bit of fourth wall banter. Much like other adventure titles, you control the game with an on-screen cursor, moving Skinny around the environment and clicking on various items or characters of interest. Clicking on certain items brings up a selection of options – Skinny can either simply look at and comment on the object, or he can interact with it directly. Over time, you’ll gain a number of different bits and bobs in your inventory that will be useful at a later point.
In order to progress through the game, you’ll need to utilise the items you have accrued in various ways – some of which make perfect sense, others not so much. I often found myself walking from one area to the next and back again in a futile attempt to figure out what to do on my own, before giving up and looking up the solution online. Perhaps more frustratingly, the game rarely points you in the right direction and I feel like a lot of the progression is based around trial and error.
The irritation caused by obtuse puzzles is thankfully mitigated by the game’s wonderful aesthetic and sense of humour. The visuals look hand drawn, and many of the environments are packed to the rafters with cool pop culture references, from Minecraft to Frankenstein. A lot of folks may find this a bit overkill, but I loved entering new areas and spending a bit of time looking out for new references. Similarly, the characters themselves are well designed, and whilst the animation leaves a lot to be desired, the voice acting is mostly pretty top-notch. It all comes together well to pay tribute to the adventure games of yesteryear, even if the gameplay doesn’t quite match up.
If you’re after a game full of weird, wonderful characters brimming with humour, The Wardrobe may well be up your alley. The adventure genre is still somewhat lacking on the Switch, but this is a good place to start. It doesn’t quite match up to the legendary titles it so clearly tries to emulate, and a lot of the puzzles may prove to be a bit frustrating for the average player, but its charming visuals and ridiculous plot more than make up for this.
The Wardrobe is a genuinely funny entry to the point-and-click adventure genre. Whilst the puzzles can prove to be a bit frustrating, its visuals and plot make this a worthwhile purchase.