Emily The Strange Strangerous

A review I wrote of the game Emily The Strange Strangerous for the website www.square-go.com

So, Emily The Strange then. Ever heard of her? Me neither. A bit of research tells us that the character began as a series of stickers to promote a music label before expanding into clothes, books, comics and now video games with Emily The Strange Strangerous.

Emily is a bit strange and lives in a strange world with her strange cats with strange people saying strange things to her. Things are, as you can tell, a bit strange but strange in the Gothic Tim Burton sense. The game looks pretty good with a muted black and grey colour scheme, each area then has an accent colour like red or purple. The animation is simple but gets the job done, and the less said about the music the better.

Strangerous is based around puzzles: someone has stolen Emily’s four cats and she must rescue them, invariably by solving some kind of logic puzzle. These are of the “connect all these dots by drawing two lines” kind of puzzles that can either be pretty easy or painfully obtuse, depending on your point of view.

It is, essentially, Professor Layton. You move from area to area, solving the puzzles, collecting items and moving on. The problem with the game is that is has neither the whimsical charm or the great characters of a Layton game, as to be honest, Emily is a dour goth girl that is pretty difficult to connect with. For Emily fans this shouldn’t pose any issues but for people new to the character? It may prove to be a hurdle.

There are several other characters to meet up with and several areas to go to. None of them really add anything though as they are essentially conduits to the next puzzle.

If the story doesn’t grab you then Strangerous then becomes simply a collection of puzzles. If you like logic puzzles then there’s plenty here for you but niggly control issues get in the way making some of the puzzles harder work then they need to be. It is also sometimes more difficult to find your way to the next puzzle or area than it should be as everything blends together. Making it difficult to pick out things you can interact with.

As this is a Nintendo DS game there are some simple mini-games thrown into the mix as well. Once again, control issues makes them less fun than they should be but they at least give you items that help you in the main game. You can win cat treats which, when you find the right cat, can be used to get hints if you’re stuck. There are also some hidden bonuses you can unlock if you play it on a DSi.

Strangerous then is a game for a certain audience. Emily fans will appreciate being to able to play as her and dyed in the wool puzzles fans will have plenty to get their teeth into. For the rest of us, the game doesn’t do anything well enough to stand out. There is, being honest, no reason to purchase this game in a world where Professor Layton exists.

Three stars out of five

Originally published July 17th 2011

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