Wonderbook: Book of Spells Review

November 13, 2012

Wonderbook: Book of Spells is a title that screams originality and a game that on paper, brings gamers together. Ever since it was announced early on in 2012, people have stood up and been intrigued as to what exactly the experience offers. Is it a Wonderbook? Read on to find out.

Game: Wonderbook: Book of Spells
Developer: SCE London Studio
Publisher: SCEE
Reviewed on:

GRAPHICS

For the most part, Wonderbook: Book of Spells is very nicely presented. The whole way that the game is closely resembled with Hogwarts and the feel of the Harry Potter franchise, is done brilliantly well. Unfortunately, there are times when the game does suffer, but this isn’t down to the way that the art has been implemented into the Book of Spells and it’s more to do with (like I’ve said in my preview), the limitations of the hardware (i.e the PS Eye Camera) that is used to power the whole experience. For the most part, it works very well but at the same time, you can see that the camera can sometimes be limiting in the way that everything moves and it’s a shame that this does happen. Yes, this is a slight downside but please be aware, this isn’t as big as a deal as it may sound as it doesn’t affect the overall enjoyment that is to be found within Wonderbook: Book of Spells.

SOUND

One thing that really is beautifully crafted into the whole Hogwarts universe is the way that the sound has been captured and placed into the game from top to bottom. Any of you that are familiar with the Harry Potter films (like my two young cousins who joined me in experiencing this), will straight away get that magical feel of the audio that has been created to complement the experience and to give off the feel that you are indeed inside the Hogwarts world. It’s brilliantly done with the narration and storytelling being captured and pushed into the game with a huge amount of professionalism and finesse. Nothing here has been sacrificed making this feel as if you are part of the magic that is in front of you. Along with the narration and storytelling being top notch, the sound effects that feature really do pull this together nicely, from various swipes and prods of your magic wand to creatures on screen plus much more of the Hogwarts experience beautifully captured in video game form.

… you get that magical feel of the audio that has been created to complement the experience and to give off the feel that you are indeed inside the Hogwarts world.

GAMEPLAY

The gameplay side to Book of Spells is all done in conjunction with camera, the PlayStation Move controller and of course, the augmented reality Wonderbook itself. The ease of use and how you go about creating your spells is wonderfully done and very simple in its implementation. Book of Spells is a tutorial like game throughout, with its aim of turning you from an apprentice wizard to a professional spell-caster by completing spells and chapter tests through a series of parts incorporated into the chapters, along with gathering valuable experience on the way. For those that remember Eye Pet, the on-screen look of whats in front of you is very similar to that with the way that it is presented and the way that the Eye camera recognises you and your movements on screen. The PlayStation Move control scheme within Book of Spells is something that any age of gamer can pick up instantly. Both of my cousins (one is 5 years old and the other is 7) didn’t have any problems with what they had to do and how you go about completing what is asked of you throughout the chapters in the game.

One big positive I did notice straight away with Book of Spells is just how quickly it grabs you and pulls you in. Both of the youngsters were so engrossed in what was on the screen in front of them that for the next few hours, I hardly heard a squeak out of them. That’s testament to just how good Wonderbook: Book of Spells is, as anything that can keep children occupied and not become bored with what they are doing, proves that not only does it work and it works as a fun learning tool, but it has an addictive nature to it. Even children with poor attention spans will be kept very quiet with the Book of Spells and also parents will be in their element knowing that something is keeping the kids quiet! Believe me when I say this, they don’t have a very good premise of sitting there for hours on end without becoming distant and bored but with this, it grabbed them and pulled them in and clearly the addictive gameplay and such, really did keep them coming back for more.

With books as a rule of thumb here, it’s clear that not only do kids try their hardest to stay away from printed materials of this nature, but imagination brings out what is best about books and why books will always be a valuable learning tool in whichever way you look at it. This is clearly something that gives Wonderbook: Book of Spells its magic as their imaginations are running wild and the whole interaction (which is something that they love) is there in an abundance. Kids love interaction and this is one of the reason why this title will be a huge success amongst the younger audiences and families across the globe. The whole experience is very natural and feels at home on the PlayStation Move platform.

…anything that can keep children occupied and not become bored with what they are doing, proves that not only does it work and it works as a fun learning tool, but it has an addictive nature to it.

I did come across a few issues within the game and this was mainly during the voice incantation sections that are dotted around each chapter. A word is put on the screen when you are starting to learn a new spell and you have to repeat the word out loud for the game to recognise it. The problem is with the Eye Toy camera, as I decided to test it out and see if the technology that is used was accurate and unfortunately, it wasn’t. The game told me to say the word ‘Reparo’ and I stayed quiet and didn’t speak a single word but for some odd reason, it said that my pronunciation was perfect. Again like the graphical side of the game that is limited by the PS Eye Camera, this is another factor to contend with when talking about the limitations of the hardware. While there are small issues now and then that pop up throughout the game, they don’t spoil the overall experience generally but it is a shame that the hardware is clearly limited in some aspects. It’s a shame that Sony didn’t sit down and completely redesign and redevelop dated technology.

LONGEVITY

As well as a long main story throughout the game that includes 5 chapters with two subsections for each, and 20 new spells for you to learn thoroughly, Book of Spells also awards your achievements that are called ‘House Points’ once you have completed each new spell. For those that do not achieve the maximum House Points during their first playtest, you can go back and replay each section, or even the complete chapter to achieve those maximum points if you so may wish. The main story can be completed in around 3-4 hours but with the ability to go back to complete everything with maximum House Points, there is an added longevity to the title. With JK Rowling on board and the whole link with Harry Potter and Hogwarts in abundance, Wonderbook: Book of Spells features linked account activity with Pottermore if you have an account set up, which goes behind the Harry Potter stories from a more interactive perspective, just like Wonderbook: Book of Spells itself. With the ability of seeing more Book of Spells goodies coming in the future through DLC, the game will undoubtedly keep on giving but even without this for the time being, Wonderbook: Book of Spells gives gamers plenty to keep them occupied.

VERDICT

Wonderbook: Book of Spells is a unique experience that brings the book into a new dawning. Not only is it fun to play but one of its main strong points is its interaction and implementation of bringing the user in and dropping them right into the heart of the Hogwarts world. My two younger cousins could not get enough of what was put in front of them and this is something that so many children and families can relate to due to its ability of letting the imagination run wild.

Arguably it’s not for everyone but if you look at it from the perspective of what its aim is to achieve in the current market, it’s an experience that you cannot get anywhere else. Yes, it has a few issues here and there with the hardware for example, but that must not take away the sheer delight and magical experience that it brings to all once you sit back and take it all in, and these issues are not big enough to hinder the enjoyment. Overall, if you have children and you want something that teaches them, yet at the same time is a fun experience, you won’t go wrong with Wonderbook: Book of Spells.

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