Christmas Stories: A Christmas Carol
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, in the lane snow is glistening... Um, yes, sorry about that. But after hours of playing Christmas Stories: A Christmas Carol, it's pretty much impossible not to be brimming with holiday spirits. If you've played Christmas Stories: Nutcracker, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, let me tell you that no one does garland-wrapped, candy-cane stuffed hidden-object adventures quite like Elephant Games. This time, we'll be travelling way back to London in 1842 to relive one of the most beloved Christmas stories with Scrooge, Tiny Tim and, er, some evil imps.
The storyline combines the original Dickens' tale with a few whimsical twists and turns to make for a more exciting game. As Scrooge's nephew, you have to save him from dying as a selfish, miserable old man with the help of the three Christmas ghosts. However, your uncle happens to have miniature good and bad versions of himself. The good Scrooge will stay with you and lend you a hand throughout the game, while the bad Scrooge will try to thwart your valiant efforts to save the festive season. The gameplay is what you've come to expect from the genre – picking up and interacting with objects, solving puzzles and list-based hidden-object scenes. What sets this particular series apart is the vast amount of love and care that went into every single detail, filling scene after scene with cheer, colourful ornaments and wintery goodness. If you really aren't the Christmas type, all this can get a tad overwhelming, but it's still guaranteed to warm the heart of the grumpiest Grinch out there.
It's quite a task to translate A Christmas Carol into a hidden-object adventure. Die-hard Dickens fans might point out a few anachronisms, or the fact that the Cratchits look suspiciously well off for a starving family, but a loose adaptation such as this one can be excused for clashing with the original here and there. The most important feature is still there, and that is the nostalgic atmosphere of evenings by the fireplace and sleigh rides through the streets of London. Most of the additions to the story are entertaining and sort of silly (in a good way), and lend a light-hearted air to the whole affair. However, the story itself takes a long time to tell, and with all the added content, it would have been rather difficult to cram it into the industry-standard four hours. It's good to see that Elephant games chose to make a longer game, taking the time to do justice to the complex narrative. The finished product is a complete experience, an absolutely charming Christmas gift to get you in that warm, gleeful holiday mood.
Christmas Stories: A Christmas Carol is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes a bonus level, concept art, wallpapers and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.