The Grinch: Christmas Adventures Review

Get the Who-Pudding and rare Who-Roast Beast ready

By Paul Hunter

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a holiday tradition in my family whether that's watching the iconic 1966 TV special or the modern Grinch film starring Jim Carrey. Naturally, I was excited to check out The Grinch: Christmas Adventures, a brand new game based on Dr. Seuss' original Grinch story.

Giving a character who hates Christmas the leading role was a bold move but one that ended up creating a classic. In the game, you play as the fluffy green Grinch along with his dog Max as you play through levels that take you all the way from Ginchy's dark cave all the way to his present-snatching invasion of Whoville. Let's see what Christmas Adventures is all about, here are two things I liked about the game...and two I'm mixed about.

Liked: Co-op Action Playing as Grinch and Max

The Grinch: Christmas Adventures is a great game to play with kids since it has drop-in/drop-out co-op with player two being Max. Grinch's faithful dog has unlimited health but even better enemies will always target Grinch. Max can also instantly respawn should he fall into a pit or get scrolled off the screen. Finally, Max is an excellent jumper making the platforming segments a bit easier.

When playing with younger kids, I recommend that parents play as the Grinch since his gameplay requires more skill. As Grinch, you'll need to tackle the game's trickier platforming segments that require you to swing across ropes, use your candy can lasso on special swing hooks and navigate moving platforms. The Grinch also has limited health and enemies will always target him while leaving Max alone.

No matter which character you end up choosing what's great is levels in The Grinch offer very frequent checkpoints, and respawning happens almost instantly. So even if you fall onto ice spikes to die by touching a spider or bat, you'll be right back into action with no load screens.

Liked: Puzzle Time

Hidden within the game's 16 levels are a ton of puzzle pieces and once you collect a certain amount you can go into the options menu to solve real puzzles. These fun puzzles always feature the Grinch in colourful scenes and after completing you'll be given rewards. Some of these rewards are crucial for beating later levels or 100% completing the game. Rewards into unlocking double jump, giving you a candy can lasso for swinging, equipping a jet pack for very high jumps and snowballs.

While the 16 levels aren't a huge amount of content, you can revisit levels after completing puzzles and gaining new abilities, then use these skills to reach new areas. In a sense, it's a bit like a Mega Man or Metroidvania game where you're encouraged to replay levels after acquiring new abilities to discover previously inaccessible areas.

Liked: Narration and Visuals Put You in the Christmas Spirit

The Grinch: Christmas Adventures is so faithful to the original Dr. Seuss book that it even has a narrator open the book and read pages of the story to you periodically as you progress through the main story. The narrator's voice is excellent, and even better he'll also narrate game hints whenever you come across new obstacles. And his advice is told through rhyming sentences that really get you into the Christmas mood.

The graphics are also nice with lots of snowcapped mountains and snow-tipped Who houses off in the distance to get you in the holiday spirit. I really liked the unique art style, particularly as you get closer to Whoville and start seeing the curvy Who buildings and the abundance of Christmas trees. If you're a fan of the Grinch book or animated film, you'll appreciate how faithful developer Casual Brothers kept to the source material.

Mixed: The Platforming

The gameplay in The Grinch: Christmas Adventures is really easy to get into and kids will likely love it from beginning to end (I know mine did!). But for me, I found the platforming to be competent but nothing overly special. You bop spiders on the head like Mario does, you hop across moving platforms, bounce on trampolines and nab collectibles. It's all fairly routine for those who play a lot of platforming games.

Thankfully, each of the game's three worlds includes a snowboarding level where you have to navigate down a curvy hill while using ramps, jumping over pits and avoiding the giant snowball or Christmas bulb behind you trying to steamroll you. It's a nice break from the usual gameplay, but I still can't help but think the Grinch's universe has much more gameplay potential.

Mixed: The Stealth

In an interesting twist, every level in The Grinch: Christmas Adventures features a few stealth segments where you infiltrate Who Houses to steal their presents. It totally makes sense from a story perspective and I must admit I felt pretty Grinchy sneaking through Who houses to ruin their Christmas mornings.

Issues creep up though since Grinch is horrible at stealth and it's quite easy to get spotted by the patrolling Gingerbread men (yeah, not sure why either) or the Whos. Once you're spotted you'll need to hide somewhere like in a closet, under a table or under a bed. Gingerbread men and Whos instantly get amnesia once you hide, forgetting that you were in their home until they spot you again usually just a few seconds later. The stealth missions are OK, but can drag on a bit as hiding and waiting takes time and takes you away from the fun part—stealing presents!

The Verdict

The Grinch: Christmas Adventures is one of the better licensed titles I've played in recent years, although it's still struck by the curse of rather limited content. With only 18 levels the game can be completed in about four hours, but the good news is the collectibles and ability unlocks add replayability. The big plus is this game is faithful to the classic Dr. Seuss book, from the excellent narration to the colourful visuals that get you in the holiday spirit.

Final Score: 7/10 - Good

The Grinch: Christmas Adventures details

Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: Outright Games
Publisher: Casual Brothers
Genre: Action, Platformer
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

A key was provided by the publisher.