In case you ever loaded a Carmen Sandiego CD-ROM into your mother and father’ clunky PC as a baby, you could be excited to study that Netflix introduced again the red-coated thief for its newest interactive expertise. Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or To not Steal attracts on the 2019 Netflix animated collection, and it’s at present the one Carmen Sandiego sport that’s available. (Moreover the Google Earth integration.)
However whereas a number of the sport’s particular person moments are thrilling, and it makes full use of the 2019 present’s gorgeous animation and its regular artistic group, the precise gameplay mechanics don’t serve a lot goal. The alternatives don’t matter to the story, for probably the most half. Although the way in which the a number of endings play out trace on the potential of extra branching paths, the expertise by no means actually feels interactive.
[Ed. word: This put up comprises mild spoilers for Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or To not Steal.]
To Steal or To not Steal places Carmen again into the arms of the evil group VILE to finish varied capers at their bidding, because the unhealthy guys kidnapped her associates. Not like the unique PC video games, the place the gameplay was strictly of the edutainment selection, the alternatives right here contain the viewer choosing one of the best ways for Carmen to drag off a heist. Does she enter the constructing from the highest, or go in from the bottom up? The choices are fairly easy, however with few exceptions, the alternatives are beauty. There’s nearly all the time a “unsuitable” possibility, and choosing it can result in failure. Then the sport selects the “proper” reply that it wished all alongside.
Given the selection of sneaking previous VILE operative Tigress or confronting her, as an illustration, I chosen the choice to slide round her. However Carmen has barely tiptoed previous Tigress earlier than her location is compromised, and the occasions play out in the very same means they’d’ve if I’d chosen the confrontation. This occurs a few occasions, the place a selection would possibly set off an additional animated sequence, however no new story branches are created, and the unsuitable selection isn’t referenced once more.
At different occasions, a unsuitable selection instantly launches the story’s endgame. As a result of the sport is geared toward a youthful viewers than Netflix’s most refined interactive undertaking up to now, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, ACME chief The Chief prompts you to return precisely to the second you tousled. Selecting to stash costly beluga caviar, as an illustration, as a substitute of dashing out with it, signifies that it goes unhealthy by the point Carmen delivers it to VILE operative Countess Cleo. Displeased, Cleo wipes the minds of Carmen’s associates, and it’s sport over. In that means, To Steal or To not Steal shares extra DNA with one other Netflix interactive undertaking, the Bear Grylls outside journey You Vs. Wild, than it does with Bandersnatch. There’s a set, decided path, and in case you veer off it, the story goes awry immediately.
The scenes are nonetheless enjoyable on their very own: Carmen dances in the midst of a flowery gala, or groups up with a former antagonist to burrow beneath a dinosaur museum. A unsuitable selection has her clutching the wings of a airplane throughout takeoff, which ends badly, however rattling, it’s cool. To Steal or To not Steal is a simple sport for youthful audiences, designed to be received slightly than explored. Nevertheless it might be a lot extra, and its finish sequences trace at how. It gives restricted branches in the way in which the ending performs out: Carmen can both bust her associates out early, or play together with VILE longer. How nicely she succeeds at these endings relies on the viewer’s earlier decisions, particularly those centered round selecting to belief or assist sure people. The fleshed-out endings save the sport from its in any other case inconsequential choices; no less than right here, I felt the ramifications of my very own choices.
However ending apart, every particular person caper proceeds with out a lot distinction from the alternatives you make, until you take pleasure in seeing cackling villains telling you that you just’ve failed once more. There isn’t even a sly nod to the grasp thief’s edutainment origins — the place are the trivia questions on geography? Absolutely a Carmen Sandiego sport ought to take a look at our information of historical past!
To Steal or To not Steal is a breezy story that takes about an hour or so to finish, and by no means requires you to maintain a flowchart of all of the doable choices you can make. That could be a benefit by itself — it is a fast journey slightly than an obsessive dedication. However the sparks of one thing cooler than a slog of inconsequential choices makes the sport irritating, hinting on the methods this undertaking might have tied into the issues that all the time made Carmen Sandiego distinctive and satisfying. At the least the Google Earth model is out there to remind followers of the character’s edutainment roots.
To Steal or To not Steal is out there on Netflix now.