Review of Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Episode 3: Muzzled! If you wish to read my review of Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees and get more background, click here.  My review of Episode 2: The Last Resort is here.)

By the “third” of anything, you have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen: the Rebel Alliance will fight the Empire, Indy will hunt for treasure and Marty will need to go back to the future.  The thing is, no matter how much you enjoy it, some of the magic that initially drew you in is gone.  With Telltale Games’ latest Wallace&Gromit adventure Muzzled!, you once again embody your favorite eccentric inventor and his faithful, industrious canine.

This episode’s story starts with the news of the loss of Wigan’s dog shelter, leaving the homeless whippets to cause all sorts of trouble.  So, the town has decided to band together to raise the funds for a new shelter.  In swoops Monty Muzzle who has a grand fair he has decided to put on to help the town raise the necessary funds.  To help the cause, Wallace decides to employ his newest invention, the Infiniflavour Ice Cream Maker (patent pending, of course), an ice cream truck that takes any flavor you provide and replicates the flavor into an ice cream to be instantly served.  After a short run-in with the rogue pups, it’s off to the fair with the Infiniflavour, but upon Wallace & Gromit’s arrival, something seems amiss.  The dogs are missing and Gromit finds a message calling for help.  Could Monty Muzzle’s philanthropic intentions really be a knavish plot to plunder the pooches and make off with the money?

Previous reviews of mine focus on the stylistic graphics and superior writing of the Wallace & Gromit games and this installment is no exception.  Heading to the fairgrounds for most of this adventure, it gives us a new area to explore and keeps us out of 62 West Wallaby Street, where we spent almost all of episode two.  The fairgrounds are colorful and well contained with a wide breadth of attractions and puzzles to solve.  I particularly enjoyed the use of the movie reel viewers that told the story of Monty Muzzle.  The short films were cleverly done in a silent-movie-era style; I was disappointed they weren’t utilized more. 

In regards to the writing, from Mr. Paneer’s color commentary of the pie-eating contest to Mrs. Gabberley’s victory party announcement, the game is again filled with the wit and charm that endeared me to this series from the beginning.  This is most evident in the character of Monty Muzzle.  His grand speeches and quick recoveries are sharp and well written. What really makes the writing stand out this episode is the voice acting.  Straun Rogers really delivers smarminess cranked up to 11 as Monty Muzzle.  His voice is pitch perfect as he jumps from saintly do-gooder to devilish rogue, tongue dripping with disdain.

The puzzles are the familiar fare you have come to expect from Telltale Games.  I am not sure if I have just become too accustomed to the puzzles here, but I felt the puzzles in this installment were found lacking in terms of difficulty and cleverness.  As with the first two episodes, this one had a word puzzle that involved both audio and visual clues to solve.  Where I raved about this puzzle (with Mrs. Gabberley) in The Last Resort, on this occasion I was unchallenged by its simplicity.  One thing they did well was the use of recurring themes and clues throughout the game.  Solutions learned early on served as hints for other puzzles towards the end.

Once again the mixture between the music, the sound effects and the voices was atrocious.  When Muzzle spoke into the public announcement system it was barely audible, as opposed to when Mr. Paneer spoke into the PA; then it was as clear as a bell.  With no way of splitting the volume between the channels, I know I missed a clever joke or two.  The clipping was also particularly bad this episode: forks hung in mid-air next to hands and some of my characters’ path finding was disjointed.  I will chalk some of this up to its being a review copy and not the finished product.

Overall Telltale Games has found themselves with another winner on its hands.  While not quite as strong as the previous episodes, Muzzled! continues the tradition of the Wallace & Gromit Adventures series with its wit and charm rolled into the wonderful characters and story of this universe.  I look forward to the fourth and final installment to see how it all wraps up, especially with Muzzled!’s surprise epilogue innuendo.