The second title to be released for Sony’s breakthrough Wonderbook product, Diggs Nightcrawler is a pretty nifty detective story that will have younger gamers completely enthralled, while even seasoned pros are bound to be charmed by its irrepressible style.

For anyone new to Wonderbook, it’s basically a big storybook that combines with a camera and the PlayStation 3 to become a fully interactive toy, putting you at the centre of the story. A nondescript blue book comes to life on your TV, morphing into another world, with you at its core. The fact that gamers get to see themselves on-screen adds immeasurably to the enjoyment, even for those of us old enough to know better.

The story revolves around the murder of Humpty Dumpty, with bookworm detective Diggs Nightcrawler framed for the crime. You are sent by Humpty to help the private eye to clear his name and expose the shadowy culprit behind this dastardly deed.

The graphics are big, bold and cartoony, and the voice acting is uniformly superb. But it’s the whole sense of film noir schlock that will hook you in, right from the get-go, as you chase villains, search crime scenes, uncover clues, question witnesses and basically do everything you can to help the under-fire gumshoe uncover the truth about his pal’s demise.

Along the way, you meet a whole host of memorable characters, from the hard-boiled Diggs himself, to spider-lady femme fatale, Itsy Bitsy. Or how about the familiar names from nursery rhymes and children’s stories, all given a noir-ish tint, with the three little pigs recast as inept police detectives, while the three blind mice are reborn as a hard-living jazz combo.

The story is fun and the action frantic; the cast of characters are delightful, but it’s the gameplay itself that is really unique, as you twist, turn and tilt the Wonderbook itself to complete the game’s various missions, all of which are beautifully created and lovingly inventive. Like Disney done by Tim Burton, there’s something deliciously dark about Diggs.

Platform: PS3
Publisher: SCEE
Age Rating: 7
Score: 4/5

John Walshe