Fiction Fixers: Adventures in Wonderland has a marvelous premise: A villainous member of the Illiterati has transported himself into Lewis Carroll’s famous novel, Alice in Wonderland, and is wreaking havoc by changing the story. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t quite live up to the cleverness of its setting, but it’s a decent hidden object adventure, nonetheless.
As a Fiction Fixer, it’s your job to track down the nefarious no-goodnik and undo any damage he’s done to the story. It’s a great setup for some hidden object searches and puzzle solving, but the Illiterati doesn’t really change all that much. It would have been great fun for him to swap out a White Turtle for the White Rabbit, or perhaps have the Red Queen playing billiards instead of croquet, but he doesn’t do much more than steal some teacups and leave lots of sharp objects around. As shenanigans go, his are pretty tame.
You may not have to fix that much fiction, but you do have to track down plenty of items and solve a load of puzzles. Adventures in Wonderland is pretty evenly split between hidden object and mini-game levels, though neither particular outshines the other. The artwork for the hidden object levels is absolutely lovely, but the searches themselves feel bland. It doesn’t help that you’re asked to find the same objects over and over again – a ladle can stay interesting only so long, after all – and some of the clues are frustratingly vague. After spending several minutes fruitless trying to find a horse, I finally realized that the “colt” on the list referred to a small pistol. Likewise, there’s nothing that makes me grind my teeth quite like being asked to find an “axe,” then having more than one axe in the picture. Not cool, guys, not cool.
The puzzles of Adventure in Wonderland are a mix of classics, like shuttling cats and mice across the river so that nobody gets eaten, and newer challenges like mini-golf (well, mini-croquet, actually). They do break up the hidden object levels well, come in an ample variety, and mesh with the plot of Alice in Wonderland quite nicely. Some of them tend towards the bizarre, such as using a trampoline to bounce lobsters into the oceans, and some of them go on a bit too long (do I really need to get Tweedledee and Tweedledum home that many times?), but for the most part, they’re solid and well done.
You’ll do a fair amount of backtracking through Adventures in Wonderland, picking up items needed to overcome challenges in other areas. Thankfully, the game’s map is extremely informative, not only telling you where you are, but letting you know all the areas that currently have active item searches, minigames, or challenges that need to be completed. If you’re ever unsure as to where you should be headed, or even just forgotten how to get somewhere, one quick look at the map, and you’re up and running again. It’s such an obvious and immensely helpful tool, and yet too few games provide this kind of assistance.
You don’t have to know anything about Alice in Wonderland to appreciate the setting of Adventures in Wonderland, but it certainly helps. All of the familiar characters are there: the Red Queen, the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, the Duchess and of course, Alice herself. The game stays fairly faithful to the action of the book, and though of course it takes certain liberties, a fan of the novel, I appreciated the clear respect the developers had for the source material. It’s a shame that the game’s nuts and bolts – its object searches and puzzles – aren’t more inspiring or original, and even more of a shame that Adventures in Wonderland didn’t do all that much with its intriguing premise. It’s certainly not a bad game, and it’s far lovelier and more polished than a lot of games you’ll find, but you can’t help but feel like it could’ve been more than it is.