The four existing Scribblenauts games from 5th Cell Media often fall victim to magic bullets: objects or creatures that stumped players can rely upon to get them through almost any puzzle, like "wings" or "black hole." The studio hopes that its design for the newest entry in the franchise, Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, will prevent that from being an issue by encouraging players to be more creative and rewarding them for doing so.
Scribblenauts Unmasked is set in the DC Comics Universe, with more than 2,000 characters from 80 years of DC history. The story brings Scribblenauts heroes Max and Lily into the world of DC Comics, where they realize that they have to restore order in a bizarre upside-down version of the DC Universe. The Batcave serves as the siblings' home base, and its Batcomputer offers a Wikipedia-like compendium of DC knowledge that the comics publisher says is one of the most comprehensive encyclopedic references for information on the DC Universe.
As you progress through Scribblenauts Unmasked, you'll make your way through a variety of realms from DC Comics lore, solving puzzles and helping out characters to return the universe to normalcy. These situations are fairly basic, like a person needing something with which they can get a superhero's autograph (the producer running our demo gave him a pen). The story missions offer more in-depth versions of those simple puzzles, with DC heroes and villains interacting in ways that are true to the comics.
"Superman isn't going to solve all your problems"
The puzzles are procedurally generated within the larger DC-inspired worlds, and according to the game's developers, that design — coupled with the parameters of the DC Universe — will keep Scribblenauts Unmasked fresh.
"We don't want to limit people and say, 'No, you used Superman too many times; you can't use him again,'" said Kirsten Gavoni, executive producer on the game at publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. "But what we do do is, if you continually use the same creatures over and over again, or the same objects over and over again, you don't get as many reputation points for doing so."
Those reputation points are the rewards you get for solving puzzles, and they're used to unlock additional areas of the game as well as items like costumes. So it's to your benefit to be creative. As for the magic bullet issue, Gavoni pointed out that in the DC Universe, even the most powerful characters aren't omnipotent.
"Honestly, like, Superman isn't going to solve all your problems. He'll be useful in certain areas [...] but he's not necessarily going to do all of your bidding and deliveries and [creation of] different diversions for people," she explained. "The puzzles are randomized enough that you're going to need to use different types of objects in order to solve them."
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure will be released Sept. 24 on Windows PC via Steam, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.