Publisher: Relentless Software
Developer: Relentless Software
Release date: Available now
Riding the cusp of a jolly good job well done, your detective avatar is sent for some much deserved r & r in the quaint, picturesque village of Little Riddle. As fate has it, though, you soon find that Little Riddle is so crime-infested and violent that it makes Detroit look like Mayberry. And thus, as the enterprising detective you are, you’re forced to cut your vacation short and solve all of the various transgressions of Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle (gasp for breath).
Blue Toad is a 1-4 player (co-op) narrative-driven whodunit game that weaves brief puzzle sequences into various set pieces. All told, the game will span six different episodes, with the first three being available now ($7.99 individually, or $14.99 as a pack) and the final three available April 29. The first three episodes will each take you about an hour to an hour and a half to complete; depending on how much time you spend scratching your head. Much akin to Heavy Rain, there is a lot of emphasis put on the scenes and dialogue, so you will be spending a great deal of time watching. Fortunately, each scene packs one interactive puzzle, giving you reason to hold that controller at the ready.
Unlike Heavy Rain, however, Blue Toad hardly takes itself seriously. It’s chock full of charming British humor and overall silliness. And it’s hard not to crack a smile when the pop of a revolver goes off, an on-screen character goes stiff and the thumping music indicates a shocking event. This is more than refreshing after trudging through so many serious, yet sometimes equally silly, games lately. The puzzles themselves run the gamut of the sensical, to the absolutely bizarre. One minute you’re chasing a shadowy figure through the streets, and the next you’re helping a retired army colonel organize his ducks. Each episode culminates in the final selection process where you need to figure out who the culprit is.
Despite the score I’ve given this game, I want to clarify that I don’t think it’s a bad game. It does several things right, and I love the concept. There are just several flaws in the execution. On the positive side, the art style and score are absolutely fabulous. They fit the bill perfectly. And it seems such a waste because the script isn’t nearly as endearing. In fact, many of the chuckles that will escape your mouth will be the result of silly animations or unexpected sound effects. Rarely did I illicit more than a smile when listening to the narrator or any of the quirky residents of Little Riddle.
The problem with the script isn’t that it’s silly. It’s meant to be, of course. It’s that it beats you over the head with its silliness. So much in fact that you’re left rolling your eyes and not paying attention to the scenes, which is a problem, since paying attention, is absolutely vital to solving the various crimes. This also leads me to the unfortunate problem surrounding the puzzles. Solving them has no bearing on catching the crooks. Mainly because most of the puzzles don’t have to do with the actual crimes themselves, as you’re just helping people with their chores. As I played I felt more like a catchall handyman than a true detective. Because of this I was left feeling like the puzzles really served no purpose in the game.
As I alluded to earlier, despite all of my criticisms, I had some fun with Blue Toad. I love the concept and I just wish they had spent more time focusing on the crime solving than the keg tapping, the duck organizing, or the book cataloguing. Little Riddle truly shines when it forces you to think, the only problem is, that doesn’t happen very often. And with the short length, and the complete lack of replayability (you’re given all the answers, even if you get the puzzle wrong), this is a hard one to recommend.