First, I'd like to say thank you for producing the prequel to The Book of Unwritten Tales (BOUT). BOUT, have to say, is the best adventure game to be produced in at *least* the last 7 years and deserves its place in history. I wrote a review somewhere and gave the game 9.0/10 with the only deduction in score resulting from the absurd rain dance mini game (although the result was genuinely funny). If not for that mini game I'd have given it a 10.
The things I loved about BOUT were the obvious, and not so obvious, references to popular culture and history. I literally laughed out loud many, many times when playing BOUT. It wasn't always the characters doing something that I laughed at. Things like the "KISS" reference and stuff were very cool. As were the Narnia, Star Wars, WoW, Pratchett (although that one was a bit obvious, the KISS reference in the scene cancelled it out) and nearly endless stuff that was funny. I also grew attached to the characters. Dunno how you did it but there really was a sense of empathy that evolved throughout the game. As I said, perfect (apart from the dumb mini-game... you know what I am talking about).
Ok, so moving onto the Critter Chronicles.
Immediately there is a sense of "hey I am familiar with this"... as long as you played BOUT first. Choose between normal and hard. Good idea. I chose hard (or whatever it's called.) So, the first chapter was a bit boring but this was offset because I knew some of the characters I was seeing and I could related it back to BOUT, so it wasn't unpleasant. If I had not played BOUT borers would probably have burrowed into my brain rendering me entirely hollow and devoid of thought or passion. I figured it was just an introduction and all the things I loved from BOUT would come in good time.
Nothing came. Nothing even close to the humour and subtle "jokes" that BOUT had. Every now and then there was something vaguely funny. But not really. The things that were funny didn't make me laugh out loud (I literally did in BOUT). I didn't "connect" with anything in The Critter Tales (TCT), like I did in BOUT. In BOUT I "connected" because I understood the references. There was none of the in TCT (well, maybe a little bit, but not very much!) "Petra". Please. That's not funny, and definitely does not evoke or "pull" me into the story like all the little things in BOUT did. I guess the only other thing that may have been a joke, or something to involve me, was the picture of Grizzly Adams. But even then I am not sure it was Grizzly Adams. I don't get it.
The characters: we get to play to of the most boring characters from BOUT. Great. Nate swears (complete with *bleeps* when he falls down the stairs. It was funny when he got chucked out of the cave in Bout. It was not funny in this game. It "felt" like that narrative was added because it was a hit in BOUT? Dunno. It was, in my opinion, a bit dumb. Where is the variety of characters that we came to love and enjoy in BOUT? They're missing! There is no attachment developed between the player and any of the characters.
The locations: so much for variety. Airship. Ice. Mage's Palace thing. Very disappointing. The only thing I can say is that the Mage's Palace and the Escher environment was brilliant -- really cool.
I don't mean to sound so negative because overall I really did enjoy the game. I do think, however, that it pales in comparison to BOUT.
Edit: Thinking about it a bit more, there were a lot of surprises in BOUT. A character would do or say something completely unexpected and I'd burst out laughing. This, unfortunately, did not happen (for me) once in The Critter Chronicles; I anticipated every response and didn't find it anywhere near as fun.
Edit: Another good thing about The Critter Chronicles is that some of the puzzles did challenge me and were rewarding when I solved them. I don't think any in BOUT were all that hard, so this is an improvement. If you'd combine the wonderful atmosphere of BOUT with some more challenging puzzles like in TCC you'd end up with a perfect game.
Do I regret spending the money on this game? Absolutely not ... I'd buy it again! Would I give it a near perfect score like Book of Unwritten Tales? No. Would I recommend it, despite the above? Yes.