HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewThe Grinch: Christmas Adventures Review

The Grinch: Christmas Adventures Review

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Licensed games tend to fall in one of two camps. There are those that are deeply respectful of their source material, and there are those that take wilful liberties. What makes The Grinch: Christmas Adventures so unusual is that it seems to be, well, both.

On one hand, we have levels that are introduced with the actual Dr Seuss text. We can’t recall a game that literally embedded the source material, in its entirety, into the game’s flow. Fans of the book will be thrilled that the book is read over the course of the game, giving the action a spot of context (and getting to hear the wonderful prose, read well). 

Then there’s the love of Dr Seuss’s prose, as the narrator has a punt at delivering couplets that the Dr. himself might have written. They’re a little sketchy, but they capture the spirit of the book while teaching you how to double-jump and bottom-bounce enemies on the head. They’re wholesome and lovely and The Grinch: Christmas Adventures would be a worse game without them.

the grinch christmas adventures review 1
Ready to be The Grinch?

The character design, too, feels like a midway spot between the Dr Seuss illustrations and the Illumination movie. That makes complete sense: you’re going to have younger players arriving from the two entry points, so why not reference them both? Again, The Grinch: Christmas Adventures feels like it’s been made by someone deeply in love with all things ‘The Grinch’. 

Well, sometimes it feels that way. Because while there are plenty of overtures to the seminal book, it can often feel like lip service. The events of the book often don’t correspond – at all – to the action in the game. The Grinch might be teetering on a cliff, ruefully looking down on Who-ville from his sleigh in the children’s book, but he’s doing nothing of the sort in the game. He’s suddenly back in Who-ville, stealing presents like nothing happened. The story and the gameplay are detached, and that can’t help but feel like a waste. 

And that’s before you start questioning what you’re doing in The Grinch: Christmas Adventures. You’re navigating platforms with Christmas presents strewn about them like Sonic rings. Protecting them are aggressive representations of Christmas: baubles, stockings, Christmas trees and nutcrackers. No wonder the Grinch hates Christmas when its manifestations keep beating the crap out of him. 

It’s all stuff that you can compromise on. The Grinch needed to be some kind of game, so why not a platformer? And what else was he going to fight or collect? But we found ourselves being less accommodating with the stealth sections. Suddenly, The Grinch was wandering into the homes of gingerbread people and stealing their presents before they beat him up. Wait – you what now? 

The stealth sections of The Grinch: Christmas Adventures are so dominant, and so unutterably pants. Even if we understood why they were appearing throughout The Grinch: Christmas Adventures (the gingerbread people are swapped out for the Whos at the halfway point), we’d still have to play the damn things. Bad stealth in a video game can be a terrible thing, and it’s none more true here. 

the grinch christmas adventures review 2
Spiders!

Step into a house or cave within a level and you are whisked to an interior section where your aim is to find an exit. On the way are presents – the game’s collectibles – and jigsaw pieces that can be collected to gain important unlocks for The Grinch. Which makes exhausting these areas rather important. You can’t just sprint through. By the Spirit of Dr Seuss, we dearly wanted to. 

Gingerbread people and Whos wander the rooms, and you will get hurt if they walk into you. So, you’re hiding in wardrobes and under pianos and tables, in an effort to lose their tail. What makes these sections so dire is a series of quirks that add up to a quirk-monolith. Hide in a wardrobe and the most bizarrely long animation will play. Jump out, and another five-second animation will play. Those five seconds are more than enough time for a gingerbread person to suddenly appear in front of your wardrobe and catch you. It’s infuriating, to say the least. 

You can’t see what Whos and gingerbread people are doing in adjacent rooms, so travel through doors and up stairs and you might just walk into their lap. And there’s a noise system in play, where the only way not to make noise is to collect nothing and move at a snail’s pace. By following the rules, you have to make these long sequences even longer and drop the speed, which we were never going to do. 

These sections are frigging everywhere. Every one of The Grinch: Christmas Adventures’ levels has at least three of the damn things, and they never change enough to make them more than a bore. We huffed and puffed whenever we realised that we were going to have to play one. 

It made us long for the platforming sections, which are mid-tier at best. The Grinch is not a mobile, dynamic character to control, which we suppose makes sense in terms of the story (see, it is true to the source material), but makes the platforming a little static and un-modern. Landing a bottom-bounce never feels satisfying, as they lack impact. Grabbing the edge of a platform is too hit and miss, and there are too many leaps of faith, leading to a spiky death. 

the grinch christmas adventures review 3
The Grinch: Christmas Adventures isn’t really up to snuff

New enemies get shuffled in at a reasonably slow rate, and the designers occasionally try to pass off old enemies as new ones: we know that spiders and stockings do exactly the same thing, Casual Brothers Ltd. We’ve got your number. It leads to a sense that The Grinch: Christmas Adventures  never escalates. Moving from levels in the cave to the outskirts of Who-ville, to Who-ville itself, leads to virtually nothing new of note. The same switch sections, the same stealth sections, get repeated in the same old ways. 

Which is a long way of saying that The Grinch: Christmas Adventures isn’t up to snuff. When it picks up the original Dr Seuss story and uses it for inspiration, The Grinch: Christmas Adventures is capable of the odd surprise. But those moments are exceedingly rare, and we found ourselves inexplicably stealing presents from gingerbread people and beating up nutcrackers in levels that repeated themselves until we were lulled into a grumpy stupor. 

By the midway point, we felt a bit ‘bah humbug’ about having to play more. Perhaps The Grinch: Christmas Adventures was true to the source material, after all: we had become the Grinch.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Lovely audiobook moments, where the book is read
  • Art style fits the source material
  • Platforming sections are alright, we suppose
Cons:
  • But the stealth sections can do one
  • Never truly matched the events of the book
  • Levels end up being repetitive
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 13 October 2023 | £33.49
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Lovely audiobook moments, where the book is read</li> <li>Art style fits the source material</li> <li>Platforming sections are alright, we suppose</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>But the stealth sections can do one</li> <li>Never truly matched the events of the book</li> <li>Levels end up being repetitive</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 13 October 2023 | £33.49</li> </ul>The Grinch: Christmas Adventures Review
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