I have been playing action games lately; big guns, screaming monsters, gory zombies, suspenseful cliffhanger endings leaving you yearning for YEARS just to get your hands on that THIRD EPISODE….. you know, the usual lot. Action games are great at what they do, but many don’t really make you think. When I saw a chance to review something a bit quieter and scratch my brain a smidgen, I welcomed the change of pace.
Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle (what a mouthful!), is a simple puzzle game set in the “Quintessentially Quaint” English village of Little Riddle. Shortly after you arrive on vacation to Little Riddle, dirty deeds begin to take place! Burglary! Arson!! And even……. .MURDER!!! As a member of the famous Blue Toad detectives, you get right to work. Ponder puzzles! Resolve Riddles! Elucidate Enigmas! Solve the mysteries of Little Riddle!
The gameplay is about as casual as it gets, with everything controlled by the mouse. Players take turns advancing the story by investigating each new lead. Each time, you are presented with a short bit of narration and then a puzzle. The puzzles come in many formats; logic puzzles, word puzzles, illusion puzzles, and there is a quiz at the end of each chapter to make sure you were paying attention. Ranks and awards are given based on time and if you made any mistakes. I like these kinds of puzzles, but I am a bit frustrated with the amount of content. There are only 6 chapters, with 12 puzzles to each. These puzzles never change, so this really limits re-playability. I would say that it also limits how long it takes your friends to figure out how you are always winning!
The story is humorous, and cheesy, but keeps things tasteful. I like a dirty joke as much as the next fellow, but I also like games I can play when the little ones are chillin’ next to me. The game takes several twists and turns before it’s done, and you never know what to expect next. I love the sarcastic narrator, his lines are hilarious! Whether he is harshly judging your performance, or cracking on the cast members, he certainly offers an amusing highlight to the game.
The entire way through, I couldn’t help but think of Carmen Sandiego, or Clue. (Hey that rhymed) The game throws a ton of information at you, and it is up to you to decide what is pertinent, and what is irrelevant. It’s pretty good at throwing you a curve-ball or two in the process, so you really have to pay attention. There were a few times I missed out on a clue because of a crash in the other room (no worries, everyone was OK), but I could click the mouse to replay the scene and review. With a chapter taking from 30 minutes to an hour, I found this feature quite helpful! ^_^
The game supports up to four players, but this is really just dividing up the level amongst the turn rotation, so it isn’t really a multiplayer experience. Since you could get the same experience by simply handing the mouse around the room in a single player game, I didn’t see much of a point in offering a multiplayer option, and with the limited content, I saw even less of a reason. Either play this game by yourself, or only play it when everyone can get together, unless you like reading all the Trivial Pursuit cards to memorize the answers (I swear my little sister did this).
Overall, I like this game. It’s quirky, and quite quaint, a completely enjoyable experience. The only thing that really bothered me was the relatively low number of puzzles, and that the puzzles only have one question/solution. This severely limits replay value, and with a price tag of £14.99 / $19.99, I kind of feel like it could be a little cheaper. I would hate to be a tight wad and tell you not to play this game just because it is a tad pricey. The story is great, the voices are done professionally, and the gameplay is perfect for an intellectual evening. Relentless Software did a great job, it is a solid game, and the puzzles are a lot of fun. If these kinds of murder mysteries are your dish, or you just like solving puzzles, I strongly recommend a purchase. And if you want to try your hand, or mind, at solving some puzzles, you might be able to win a copy! Read the details HERE!
For more information on this game, or to purchase, go to the website www.bluetoadmurderfiles.co.uk
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