IGN Review of American McGee's Grimm Episode 05
My mother always told me that it was rude to point fingers at people. The title character in the fifth episode of American McGee's Grimm, The Girl Without Hands, doesn't have this problem, because, well, she doesn't have hands. As the Brothers Grimm fairytale goes, her father chopped them off in exchange for riches from the devil. While playing this episode isn't as painful as slicing off your hands (don't do it kids, stay in school), it won't exactly amass you a load of wealth either.
This episode is a step backwards for the series in a few regards. While you still maintain your routine task of walking around until you stink up enough land, the story isn't as interesting as in past episodes and the premise isn't very exciting. In addition, the cinematics feel like they expect you to know the story beforehand. In the story, the Devil wants to keep the The Girl Without Hands for himself, but is warded off by her crying tears. She then she runs off and marries a king after they meet when she eats a large pear from his garden... or something to that nonsensical effect. From a glance, the cutscenes look like they could provide a fun, cartoonish romp, but the narrative is nowhere near as strong or cohesive as something you would find in a Pixar animated short.
Your character, Grimm, even thinks the story is lame and always talks about how he would like to alter the ending. However, in the end, the story is simply retold in a slightly more twisted fashion. The outcome remains relatively the same. I realize that these episodes want to pay tribute to the original Brothers Grimm stories, but when your lead character is a smelly and putrid midget who roams around and stinks up the world, I think you can afford to take some liberties to make the narrative more interesting.
Another area that takes a step back is the platforming, which is nearly nonexistent. That's not good for a quasi-platformer. This is a shame considering the series showed potential with the third episode of the series, The Fisherman and His Wife, which featured a pretty cool platforming segment. The levels in this episode are tiny, rudimentary, and lack depth. Sure, there is a somewhat tricky jumping part in this game, but this section lasts for all of two seconds. The majority of my time spent jumping was when I had to perform butt stomps on specified points on the map, which is nothing more than a mundane and routine task for the series at this point.
Another mundane aspect of the gameplay to deal with are the non-playable characters, who are supposed to make your life harder by acting as your clean-up crew. You can butt stomp the area to slow down these enemies, but you won't need to as they are still too slow and pose no threat at thwarting your dastardly deeds.
From an aesthetic standpoint, this game offers a couple of new visual tricks. There is a level where the sky darkens and bloody rain. Even though there are hardly any jumping segments, this episode brings more depth by throwing more hills at you. These hills don't present any interesting challenge or new gameplay mechanic, but at least the aesthetics are starting to vary. What doesn't change all that much, however, is the art style, which was always pleasant to look at. On the technical side of things, the graphics engine still has some problems with invisible walls, which the game tries to hide, but investigative gamers will know better.
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