Posted: January 16, 2014
"Write anything, solve everything." This has been the mantra for Scribblenauts since its creation in 2009, and each new installment comes closer and closer to realising this goal. Scribblenauts Unlimited on Steam has taken the "write anything" part to heart, but falters a bit of the "solve everything" side of the equation.
The Steam Workshop support for this game is quite huge. If you can think of an object that the game doesn't recognise (mostly copyrighted content), then it's possible that someone has either created it for you, or some toying around with the game's impressive object editor will make your dreams a reality. Even better, you can upload your creations for all Steam users to enjoy.
As awesome as this is, the gameplay is a tad disappointing. At least, we finally have an explanation for Maxwell's endless search for Starites (the game's MacGuffin). The story acts as a prequel to the series, as Maxwell struggles to retrieve the errant Starites to rescue his sister, Lilly (one of literally dozens of his relatives, all of whom are playable characters), from being turned into stone. This story is quickly forgotten once you start summoning vuvuzuela-playing pink jaguars to fight a winged preposterous black knight riding atop a cowardly telekinetic cybernetic T-rex, with only the occasional interlude reminding you of your main objective.
To retrieve the Starites, Maxwell must help people around the game's expansive world with various problems, from helping an up-and-coming rock band gain a fanbase, to helping patients in a hospital with their various ailments. While its nice to have a large amount of different areas to explore, many of which feel alive with various characters mulling about, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was just playing nicer-looking versions of the DS games' title screens. Worse yet, many of the main challenges don't encourage your imagination as often as you think they would.
Despite these problems, I would still highly recommend this game to anyone who hasn't played the series before. The visuals are crisp, the sheer amount of objects that can be generated is mind boggling (not counting the extensive Workshop creations), and it's still fun to see how each object and adjective interacts with each object in the world.
+ Graphics look amazing, even on low-powered laptops
+ Amazing object editor
+ "Write anything": only limited to your imagination
+ Always fun to see object/adjective interactions
+ Nice origin story for Maxwell...Cons:
- ...but is quickly forgotten while goofing off
- Worlds feel like glorified title screens from the DS games
- Many challenges limit/stifle creativity