Sunday, 7 March 2010

Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter DS

Cute but sinister
5th Cell returns to the world of the first Drawn to Life with this sequel.  The original game was well received when it was released in 2007.  Whilst not straying far, if at all, from the game play of the first Drawn to Life, Next Chapter sees the addition of new villages to explore, a new plot and the true identity of a minor character in the first game, and this one, is finally revealed.

Next Chapter revolves around a quest to restore the world to rights when colour disappears from the Raposa village of the first game, many characters disappear into thin air, and as the inhabitants go on to discover colour has left the entire world as well.  Soon the Creator (you) is called upon to send a hero (you) in which to help the Raposa with this most alarming of situations.  Before long, however, the Raposa begin to realise that the threat to their existence is not just as simple as colour disappearing from the world.

Game play
As with the first game, you are given the opportunity to design a character from scratch, or use a complete guide so that you don’t design your own character or use the guide to help you design your own.  Designing aspects of the game is one of the more important aspects to gameplay and happens throughout the game, with parts of the environment given over to you for their design to be finalised.  Unlike in the Wii version that goes by the same name, but is not the same game, the DS version of Next Chapter will have some instances where you have no guide on which to base or use instead of your own imagination when drawing.

Due to the DS and its stylus being nowhere near as unwieldy as using the Wii-mote in the Wii game, designing the hero and other items in the environment is not an endurance exercise.  It is a great deal easier to spend time drawing your own creations, but it may take a great deal of effort to be sure things look as good as you want them to, because you are editing images on nearly a pixel by pixel basis.  Yet the DS version is certainly superior when it comes to designing the hero, as it is simpler to use than the Wii game.  Also, if there is any designs of yours that you are particularly proud of you are able to trade them with others using multi-card play.

Next Chapter is easier to play than similar and recent platformers.  The levels have been designed in such ways that it is extremely difficult to become lost, and routes for progression and how to get there are logical.   There are times, however that the more experienced platform player will find the levels far too easy to complete.  During the course of the game the hero gains access to two morphing abilities that make the navigation of later levels in the game interesting and puzzling in a way that is enjoyable.

The DS version of Next Chapter is almost a completely different experience to the Wii version of the game.  The aesthetics of the game design and the story are far more developed and sophisticated than what Planet Moon Studios did with their Wii based sequel.  Next Chapter on the DS retains the charming style of the original game, but also adds on a level of story that is far more mature than can be found in the offerings of most Mario games and Little Big Planet.  Though at first glance the story to Next Chapter on the DS can seem simple, the ending is far from it and has a level of depth not normally seen in a game marketed towards children.  It is a credit to 5th Cell that though the game is short, it does not feel like this when played, and feels just about the right length, even if you don’t go back to different villages and try to complete them 100%.

Story with depth
Charming design
Is not too long
Follows on logically from the first game
Accessible game play…

… Accessible game play
Dealing with pixels whilst designing

Over all score: 80%

Related links
Official website

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