|Platform Wii U, 3DS, Win|
|Publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Developer 5th Cell Media|
|Release Date 2013-09-24|
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure is a superhero game with a very light touch.
The Scribblenauts series has always been about establishing bizarre puzzles and giving the player freedom to create the craziest solutions. Unmasked continues that tradition, with an added emphasis on story and character, lent by the heroes and villains of the DC universe. It's a pleasant evolution of the Scribblenauts formula and a surprisingly good superhero game that serves fans of both properties with excellent puzzle design and buckets of fan service. Unmasked only stumbles when it throws players into overly-obtuse situations.
You play as Maxwell, a kid with a magic notebook and an overactive imagination. Whenever Maxwell writes something in said notebook, it appears in the world. This power — along with sister Lily's magic globe — lands them in the DC universe, to fight villains and rub elbows alongside the likes of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern Corps and just about every other A-lister across the major DC properties. You don't need to be a DC superfan to enjoy Scribblenauts: Unmasked, but the plot contains plenty of subtle nods and in-jokes, so it helps to at least have a passing familiarity.
At its core, Scribblenauts Unmasked is a 2D action/platformer with a heavy emphasis on solving puzzles via your notebook powers. You can write in any object or creature you desire, modify it with adjectives, and let fly with the results. In this edition, you also have access to a massive compendium of DC heroes, villains and objects, which you can spawn into most situations. These powers are essential to making your way through Scribblenauts Unmasked's world, which is set in discrete stages themed after famous locales from the comics.
In each stage, you can run free and accomplish mini-sidequests — one-off puzzles that yield "reputation points" — or go right for the story missions. Story missions are the main attraction — always starring a DC mainstay and his/her arch nemesis, these are short but challenging sequences that represent Scribblenauts Unmasked's best puzzle design. In one early scene with Superman, I had to lure a kryptonite-enhanced enemy off of a building, and then beef up Supes' resistance to radiation as he fought off Lex Luthor. In another, I had to wear a dapper suit and infiltrate a party at Wayne Manor to help snuff out Ra's al Ghul. These core challenges highlighted 5th Cell's skill in adapting DC characters to the anything-goes nature of Scribblenauts' puzzle design, and they were consistently the highlight of my playthrough.
While story missions always propelled the narrative forward, I also enjoyed my time kicking around stages and solving the quirky challenges that came up along the way. I solved riddles posed by Edward Nigma and lured Catwoman to a set-up heist in Gotham City, ran errands in Metropolis and flew through an 8-bit maze in Oa. These quests reset every time I spawned into a level, so there was always plenty to do.
Scribblenauts Unmasked is a joyful, super-powered playground.
Scribblenauts Unmasked let me go wild in the home environs of some of my favorite superheroes. I rode a giant spotted T-Rex in Metropolis, and flew around in a winged bathtub all over the Joker's Lair. That freedom — and the majority of the puzzle design, which supports it — made Scribblenauts Unmasked a pleasure, even when it stumbled on the occasional cantankerous solution.
Scribblenauts Unmasked: a DC Comics Adventure was reviewed using a downloadable retail Wii U copy purchased by Polygon staff. You can read more about Polygon's ethics policy here.About Polygon's Reviews