Playstation Network’s downloadable games service does a good job of keeping things fresh. They have always gone above and beyond to release unique and one of a kind titles. A prime example of this is Blue Toad Murder Files, a Professor Layton-esque, episodic puzzler that brings a fresh take on the mystery-puzzle genre to this platform. There really aren’t many other games like this on PSN, which makes this one stand out as one of the best. I recommend everyone give this game a whirl, as it will stretch your brain as well as your taste in gaming.
The story of this game is pretty simple. You work for the Blue Toad Detective Agency, and you are visiting the village of Little Riddle on assignment from your mother, to have a nice relaxing vacation. It doesn’t exactly go as planned, because about ten minutes after you arrive, the mayor is viciously shot by and unknown assailant and it is your job as a detective to find out who did it. As mentioned, this game has six episodes, each with its own single contained storyline, but they arc over with one another to create and overall storyline. It is really easy to follow, with a very unique cast of characters to keep track of as you go in and out of each episode. Overall, the story really isn’t the main focus here, but it does a good job at keeping you interested.
What really is the main draw of this game are the puzzles. Each episode has around sixteen puzzles that you will have to figure out to be able to solve the case. These range from math puzzles, to logic, to word searches, etc. There is a really good variety here, and each of them is very challenging in respect to the previous one. This is also a problem, however. The difficulty ramps up way too much in some spots, with some puzzles being laughably easy and taking you thirty seconds to complete, while others can take you up to fifteen minutes to solve.
Also, to kind of wrap up the story so far, after every few puzzles you will have a four question multiple choice quiz, which will ask you very specific questions about the events that have taken place. They don’t offer points for or against you; it’s just so you know what is happening as you go along. Also, every puzzle gives you an award at the end: gold, silver or bronze. This is based on the par time, the time you took and if you had any wrong attempts. You can give up on a puzzle if you get stuck and don’t know where to turn, and the game will continue regardless and will spell out how to solve it. So, overall this game allows for variances in time for each episode, but I finished each one in around forty five minutes to an hour a piece, and with all six episodes that would be about six hours of game play, and which is pretty lengthy for a downloadable game. I can understand also that the game will be pricey for some. Its $15 for the first three episodes as a bundle, or $7.49 sold individually. Yes, this is expensive, but there are games that have cost more that have not been nearly as entertaining, and I believe that this game warrants this price tag.
The other addition to the game play and by far the best one in my opinion is the allowance of multiplayer. You can play with up to four different people solving the same case, and it will take turns with what puzzle you are doing. Now, it doesn’t change the puzzles up depending on how many people you are playing with, which would have been nice. However, this really doesn’t matter, because I had a blast playing with a friend of mine, trying to solve the riddles. It does make the game considerably easier, but if you don’t want to help your friend, and compete to see who can solve the most puzzles and do the best at them, then that can be allowed to. This feature really makes this game the sit-down party game that it deserves to be, and almost turns it into Clue: The Video Game.
The presentation is actually very good in Blue Toad Murder Trials. The graphics have a very old-timey, cartoonish feel to them. The character models are all ridiculous and over the top, and the game overall looks and feels very (for lack of a better word) childish. All the characters have hilarious British accents, and it makes the game very whimsical, bright and light hearted. The sound is good; however the same music is played through most puzzles, and can sometimes get on your nerves. I really like the way the game looks and feels and once again, it is something very unique compared to other titles.
I cannot say it enough: Blue Toad Murder Files is a game that stands out from many other games. Relentless Software, the same team that brought you Buzz!, has done an awesome job bringing a fun little puzzler that rivals Professor Layton at his own game. You will sometimes be very frustrated and want to just quit and give up. However, I urge you, stick with this series. It is a rewarding game that I feel everyone should experience. If you are having that much trouble figuring out the puzzles, it is because this game is best experienced with more than one person. So, grab and friend or two, because it is time to solve the mysteries of Little Riddle.
Note: I just want to let everyone know that this review is just for the first three episodes of the Blue Toad Murder File series. The others have not been released yet, therefore this is all I have to go off of.
Review copy provided by publisher.