Movies based on books tend not to be good as the source material. Games based on movies tend to follow the same pattern. So what happens when you make a game based on a movie based on a book? You get Inkheart, an unsatisfying and short adventure title for the Nintendo DS.
The game follows the adventures of the Folchart family as they must face elements of the past of the father, Mo. He and Meggie must face stop an evil man, ripped right from the pages of a fantasy novel, from destroying their lives. You control both of the Folcharts as well as Dustfinger, a mysterious man from Mo's past, and even a young Arabian boy by the name of Farid.
The book's story is an interesting tale of adventure, and was fun to read. The game, however, fails to present the tale well, pretty much requiring you to already know the story in order to get any enjoyment from it. Important points are glossed over, characters aren't given any depth, and it feels quite the shallow tale.
Held like a book, most of the game involves you clicking on various points on the screen with your stylus. This is standard point-and-click faire, but isn't really done too well. For one, there's not a whole lot to do. There are usually a couple screens in each adventuring segment with a only couple objects to interact with in each. This makes puzzles a very simple affair - which isn't a bad thing necessarily, considering that the game is marketed towards the same crowd as the novel, a younger crowd.
The graphics, while nicely drawn, also tend to get in the way of the gameplay. Interactive objects tend to disappear into the background, and although there is a way to simply reveal all interactive objects on the screen, it makes gameplay a very simple affair of walking into a room, checking all the objects, then leaving the room when you're done. There's no real time (or reason) to take in the scene, and the game tends to move along at a quick pace, not allowing you to really take in what you're doing.
When you're not playing the adventure game, you're forced to play through some exceedingly simple minigames. These range from stealth moments with Farid, or guiding Dustfinger's ferret-like pet through a maze of rafters, as well as a couple others. Most common is when you're tracing a line in order to 'read' stories, which is unfortunate because this game gets old fast. In general, none of the minigames are terribly interesting, but do suffer from some poor controls. They opt to go with a stylus-only control scheme, whereas being able to use the control pad would've been much better.
Like I said before, the graphics are nice. Alongside the gameplay are the portraits of the characters who speak throughout the game, depicted as the actors from the movie. They only have one facial expression, which is odd when the text (no voice acting) expressed some shouting or worry, and all the portrait shows is a calm demeanour.
This is pretty indicitive of most of the game: everything feels like only a portion was done. It's finished, and there don't appear to be any glaring errors, but that's all there is, and it feels like there's supposed to be more to it. The game just doesn't live up to either the book nor the novel. The gameplay feels pretty shallow, as does the plot, and you can probably finish the entire game in less than half a dozen hours. Though the book is worth reading (as for the movie, I'm not sure), the game isn't really worth the time.