Help Save Princess Mary
Christmas Stories: Nutcracker is a nice take on the holiday theme for a wide range of players. And that includes those who are not too familiar with games at all. To ensure that the game stays entertaining even for beginners, there are three difficulty modes available, namely, Casual, Advanced and for genre veterans who need no assistance, Hardcore. These dictate the recharge rate of the Hint and mini game Skip systems. It also determines whether or not you can rely on sparkles to point you towards key interactive locations –indicating items which need to be examined or zoomed into to progress the story.
At the beginning of the game, you receive an invitation to the Royal Christmas Ball. You don’t think twice about attending of course. Once you arrive, you find the butler sleeping on the job. After getting a taste of the game’s interactive system, you wake him up using a bell. He then tells you the bad news: you arrived late and missed the ball. The good news is that you can still get a present from underneath the grand Christmas tree as long as you’ve brought your invitation. You present the card to the butler and he opens the door for you. You pick one of the presents underneath the tree and, lo and behold, the Nutcracker bursts out. He then asks for your help in saving Princess Mary whose dollhouse was attacked by the Rat King and then kidnapped. Explore the curious mansion for clues that may assist in freeing her from his clutches.
Nutcracker isn’t just your run in the mill hidden object game. Not only does it shine in terms of presentation, it also has fresh game mechanics that set it apart from the rest of the titles in the genre. For instance, there are companions which can help you get past tricky game obstacles. There’s the Nutcracker himself of whom no single rat is a match, a cute cat who wishes to live up to his father’s reputation of being a good rat catcher as well as candle who can melt and light things up.
Sidetracked for Fun
With a unique twist of their own, the hidden object puzzles are entertaining as well. Not only will you need to rely on your keen eyes to spot each item on the check list, there will also be a few special objects that will require you to use your wits. Highlighted in blue, these may come in the form of incomplete objects such as a nesting doll that is missing its other half or a clock face which needs a pair of clock hands. Some need to be activated or altered, such as a candle that needs to be lit up before it is crossed off the list. Though minor, we find that this is a witty twist to hidden object puzzles.
Aside from the hidden object puzzles, you will come across various mini games throughout your adventure. These vary by scene and may be as simple as figuring out how to turn pieces of a puzzle to form a complete image or as tricky as requiring you to memorize a sequence of colors. Depending on the difficulty you chose, you may opt to skip these sequences. You may also make backtracking less dragging by using the built-in instant travel through the Map menu.
Looks Really Good
If there is anything about Nutcracker that beats its entertaining game mechanics, it will be its stunning graphics. The colors are absolutely spot-on, with a fantastic mix of blue, red, gold and green as dominant colors. The art style is reminiscent of festive Christmas cards, with an incredible amount of detail in every scene. The visuals are accompanied by delicate tunes that seem like the come straight out of a music box, perfect for that holiday vibe.
A Classic Kind of Fun
Being such a polished game based on a much-loved ballet, we cannot recommend Christmas Stories: Nutcracker enough. It is perfect for anyone who is looking for well-made hidden object game with some shiny Christmas wrapping. With such loveable characters and a delivery that is nothing short of classy, it’s even suitable for good little boys and girls.