Page Chronica (Video Game Review)
The story of Page Chronica is actually one of the few things that the game gets right. You play as a young apprentice and well known book lover named Topez who spends most of her free time reading and working as the librarian of Universal Library of the Infinite Palace. One day, Topez opens the wrong book and unleashes an ancient, evil spirit known simply as The Big Bad from his book imprisonment. The menace reveals he is looking for a special book that holds a great power for The Big Bad to become all powerful, and he begins to enter book after book in search of the special text. Topez sets off in pursuit of the evil spirit to use her power of words to lock The Big Bad up once again before her master returns from his trip. Page Chronica continues in this fashion and rewards players with a predictable ending that would feel more satisfying if you didn't have to play through the game to experience it.
Soon after the opening scene of the game is revealed, the mundane gameplay of Page Chronica manages to continuously get worse the more you play it. Page Chronica features very poor graphics that, while colorful, provide very stiff animations and clunky controls that can quickly ruin any good platform game. Movement is slow and awkward, jumping is even worse by making precision jumping unnecessarily difficult and the game's difficulty is inconsistent, offering simple enemies that can be blasted away in a single shot one moment to giving some of the most challenging jumps in gaming history the next. You can conjure up a word cloud to create words that unlock powerups and moves for Topez, but this mechanic really only comes up useful in situations that require you to use it to unlock the ability to double jump instead of using it to unlock more powerful attacks and the like. This makes the unique mechanic come off as forced into the game, and because it is so poorly explained in the game, it can leave you frustrated as you try to figure out what combination of words will unlock which abilities. Compounding the problem with the design choice is a timer that is constantly running down whether you're adventuring or fooling around with the word cloud. Instead of being a word game with fun platforming mixed in, Page Chronica forces the repetition on the player is the most woeful ways possible that is more reminiscent of homework than a fun game like Scribblenauts.
The campaign of Page Chronica is fairly short and could easily be completed in a single setting. While the storyline of the game is a lighthearted adventure that's enjoyable for the whole family, the game itself is far from that. You'd be better served to play a number of other better platformers and read a book when you get tired of that than to suffer through a playthrough of Page Chronica. This fantasy adventure takes a page out of book of bad game design and ruins a great idea with platitudinous gameplay that isn't entertaining enough to make education fun and isn't smart enough to help you learn something by playing. Close the book, because this story is done.
Page Chronica is now available exclusively for PlayStation Network and can be purchased for $10.99. Page Chronica is rated E by the ESRB for Mild Fantasy Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Page Chronica website.
Developer: Red Hare Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Available exclusively for PlayStation Network (reviewed)
Release Date: December 4, 2012